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Tetradactylus seps (LINNAEUS, 1758)

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Higher TaxaGerrhosauridae (Gerrhosaurinae), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Short-legged Seps, Five-toed Whip Lizard 
SynonymLacerta seps LINNAEUS 1758: 204
Ameiva meridionalis — MEYER 1795: 28
Stincus sepiformis — MEYER 1795: 30
Sincus [sic!] sepiformis SCHNEIDER 1801: 191
Gerrhosaurus sepiformis — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1839: 384
Gerrhosaurus sepiformis — GRAVENHORST 1851: 300
Tetradactylus laevicauda HEWITT 1915
Tetradactylus laevicauda — ESSEX 1925
Tetradactylus seps laevicauda — LOVERIDGE 1942
Tetradactylus seps seps — FITZSIMONS 1943: 289
Tetradactylus seps laevicauda — FITZSIMONS 1943: 290
Tetradactylus seps laevicauda — FITZSIMONS 1947: 113
Tetradactylus seps — BRANCH 1990
Tetradactylus seps — BATES et al. 2014: 234 
DistributionRepublic of South Africa

Type locality: “in Meridionalibus”

laevicauda: Type locality: Tabamhlope, Drakensberg, Natal.  
TypesHolotype: UUZM (= ZMUU) 37 (Uppsala University Museum of Zoology); additional specimens: PEM 
DiagnosisDescription: This is the most 'lizard-like' seps with reduced, but fully formed, limbs.

Variation: Hewitt (1915) distinguished T. laevicauda by (1) the carination of the dorsal scales and (2) the number of femoral pores (7 in the single type)
However, FitzSimons (1943) noted 7-12 (usually 8-10 fermoral pores in typical T. seps. The main features distinguishing laevicauda from seps noted by Hewitt (1915) include: (1) Dorsal scales ·on the neck are only very feebly striated and none are keeled. (2) The head shield are quite smooth with trace of ribbing. (3) The caudal shields over the greater portion of the tail are quite smooth (hence his choice of the specific name). Analysis of these 'diagnostic' characters in the PEM Cape material reveals that there is a clinal increase in femoral pore number (details in Branch 1990).

Scale ornamentation is also very variable. The head shields are smooth (or almost so) in all specimens from the Katberg and Camferspoort. The only specimen with obviously striated head shields is from Prince Alfred's Pass, whilst faint striations occur in one of two specimens from Robinson's Pass, and specimens from the Kammanasieberg and Tsitsikama Coastal National Park. Caudal scalation is more constant; dorsal scales in the middle of the tail are strongly keeled in Western Cape populations (Cedarberg, Porterville), obviously keeled in most specimens from the Southern Cape (Robinson's Pass, Prince Alfred's Pass, Tsitsikama, Kammanasieberg), but only faintly keeled in Camferspoort lizards. Most Katberg specimens have smooth dorsal caudal scales (see pI. 51(4) in Branch, 1988) and thus conform closest to Hewitt's concept of laevicauda. However, the caudal scales of the smallest Katberg seps (R 3057; SV 45mm) are faintly keeled, and in a large adult (R3056) the dorsal caudal scales are smooth except for the regenerated section in which all the caudals are heavily keeled (from Branch 1990). Because of these small differences, Branch 1990 synonymized laevicauda with seps. 
  • Bates, M.F.; Branch, W.R., Bauer, A.M.; Burger, M., Marais, J.; Alexander, G.J. & de Villliers, M.S. (eds.) 2014. Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, 512 pp.
  • Berger-Dell'mour, H. A. E. 1983. Der Übergang von Echse zu Schleiche in der Gattung Tetradactylus, Merrem. Zool. Jb. Anat., 110 (1983): 1-152
  • Branch, W. R. 1990. The genus Tetradactylus (Sauria:Gerrhosaurinae) in the Cape Province, South Africa: New records and their taxonomic status. J. Herp. Assoc. Africa 37: 13-16 - get paper here
  • CONRADIE, W.; W. R. BRANCH & D. G. HERBERT 2017. GERRHOSAURIDAE: Tetradactylus seps (Linnaeus 1758) Short-legged seps - DIET. African Herp News (65): 14-16 - get paper here
  • Duméril, A. M. C. and G. Bibron. 1839. Erpétologie Générale on Histoire Naturelle Complète des Reptiles. Vol. 5. Roret/Fain et Thunot, Paris, 871 pp. - get paper here
  • Essex, R. 1925. Descriptions of two new species of the genus Acontias and notes on some other lizards found in the Cape Province. Rec. Albany Mus. 3: 332-342.
  • FitzSimons, V.F. 1943. The lizards of South Africa. Transvaal Museum Memoir No.1 (Pretoria), 528 pp.
  • Fitzsimons,V.F.M. 1947. Descriptions of new species and subspecies of reptiles and amphibians from Natal, together with notes on some other little known species. Ann. Natal Mus. (Pietermaritzburg) 11 (1): 111-137
  • Gravenhorst, J. L. C. 1851. Über die im Zoologischen Museum der Universität Breslau Befindlichen Wirtelschleichen (Pseudosaura), Krüppelfüssler (Brachypoda), und einige andere, Denselben verwandte Reptilien aus den Zünften der Schleichen und Dickzüngler [Euprepes striolatus]. Acta Acad. Caes. Leop. Carol. Nat. Cur. 23 (1): 291-394 [1847] - get paper here
  • Haagner, Gerald V. & Branch, William R. 1992. Geographical Distribution. Sauria: Gerrhosauridae: Tetradactylus seps (Linnaeus, 1758). Journal of the Herpetological Association of Africa (Humewood), 41: 37. - get paper here
  • Hewitt, J. 1915. Descriptions of two new South African lizards, Tetradactylus laevicauda and T. fitzsimonsi. Annals Transvaal Mus. 5 (2): 101-103 - get paper here
  • Linnaeus, C. [= Linné, C. von] 1758. Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Laurentii Salvii, Holmiæ. 10th Edition: 824 pp. - get paper here
  • Meyer, F.A.A. 1795. Synopsis Reptilium, novam ipsorum sistens generum methodum, nec non Gottingensium huius ordinis animalium enumerationem. Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, Göttingen, 32 pp [for current names see Rösler & Böhme 2021] - get paper here
  • Reeves, B., Brooke, C. F., Venter, J. A., & Conradie, W. 2022. The Reptiles and Amphibians of the Mpofu-Fort Fordyce Nature Reserve Complex in the Winterberg Mountains, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. African Journal of Wildlife Research, 52(1) - get paper here
  • Rösler, Herbert & Wolfgang Böhme 2021. Das Leben von Friedrich Albrecht Anton Meyer (1768 – 1795) und die Herpetologie in seinen Schriften, unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der „Synopsis Reptilium“. Sekretär 21: 83-129
  • Wallin, L. 2001. Catalogue of type specimens. 4. Linnaean specimens. Uppsala University, Museum of Evolution, Zoology section, 128 pp. - get paper here
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