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Trachylepis boehmei KOPPETSCH, 2020

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Mabuyinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Böhme’s Grass Skink 
SynonymTrachylepis boehmei KOPPETSCH 2020 
DistributionEthiopia (Amhara Region)

Type locality: Ankober (9°36′N, 39°44′E), elevation 2,450 m.a.sl., North Shewa, Amhara Region, Ethiopia (map in Fig. 2 in Koppetsch 2020).  
Reproductionovoviviparous (Koppetsch 2020). 
TypesHolotype: ZFMK 16795, adult female, collected by G. Nikolaus on 12 November 1975 (Fig. 1).
Paratypes: ZFMK 16785–86, 16788, 16791–92, 16794 and 16796: adult females, ZFMK 16787, 16789–90 and 16793: adult males, all with the same data as the holotype (Fig. 4B). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Trachylepis boehmei sp. nov. can be distinguished from all other congeners by the following combination of characters: (1) slender body of small size, SVL up to 55.3 mm; (2) relatively short tail length, up to 69.6 mm (about 1.3 times SVL); (3) relatively short eye–snout distance, up to 0.3 times head length; (4) 26–29 scale rows around midbody; (5) smooth uncarinated dorsal scales; (6) unique colour pattern showing a striped throat (11–12 stripes), a lateral white stripe from eye to tail, dorsally a pale brownish colouration with 6–8 darkish brown stripes ranging from neck to the end of the tail, an unpatterned cremish white ventral colouration and a head with small brown spots dorsally (Koppetsch 2020).

Variation: Variation in mensural and meristic characters for the adult type series is shown in Table 1. The paratypes of Trachylepis boehmei sp. nov. show eleven to twelve ventral stripes on the throat. Six to eight darkish brown stripes range from neck to the end of the tail. Head scalation is similar to holotype except for the contact of parietals and the contact of prefrontals, which vary in the paratypes from being separated to bordering each other (Fig. 4B in Koppetsch 2020).

Comparisons: Trachylepis boehmei sp. nov. can be easily distinguished from the other representatives of the genus Trachylepis occurring in Ethiopia (see the key to the Ethiopian Trachylepis provided below) by a variety of morphological characteristics. By having a smooth dorsal scalation it can be separated from all congeners showing a characteristic number of distinct keels (indicated in brackets) on their dorsal scales, T. brevicollis (2–3), T. hildebrandtii (3), T. maculilabris (5–8), T. planifrons (3, rarely 4–5), T. quinquetaeniata (3, rarely 4–5), T. striata (3, rarely up to 7), T. varia (3) and T. wingati (3). In addition, Trachylepis boehmei sp. nov. shows a comparable low number of midbody scale rows (26–29) and is easily distinguishable from T. brevicollis (30–35), T. hildebrandtii (32), T. maculilabris (30–38, rarely more than 34), T. quinquetaeniata (32–46, rarely more than 40), T. striata (32–42, rarely more than 36) and T. wingati (30–32). It differs from T. megalura by having a relatively short tail length, maximal 1.7 times the SVL (vs. generally more than twice the SVL), a relatively low eye–snout distance, up to 0.3 times the head length (vs. 0.4) and a shorter body size of around 46.8 mm SVL (vs. generally more than 55 mm SVL). Most specimens of T. megalura show at least 3 indistinct keels on their dorsal scales (vs. completely absent in the new species) (Marques et al., 2019), but in some populations these can be also completely reduced (T. Mazuch, pers. commun.). Although, Trachylepis boehmei sp. nov. shows the closest morphological resemblance concerning its habitus and appearance to T. megalura, it is additionally distinguishable by its coloration and number of midbody scale rows. Both species have a prominent lateral white band running from below the eye along the entire body to the tail. However, T. megalura shows only 4 darkish brown, relatively indistinct fine dorsal stripes from the neck to the base of the tail, while the new species differs in having 6–8 darkish brown stripes dorsally ranging from the neck to the end of the tail by flowing into each other. While a maximum range of 22–28 scale rows at midbody has been reported for T. megalura, most individuals show 24–26 MSR, a lower number compared to Trachylepis boehmei sp. nov. having 26–29 MSR.
Despite the fact that the type series has been assigned to T. irregularis before, this biogeographically separated montane endemic from Kenya and Uganda can be easily distinguished from the new species by having 2–5 (regularly 3–4) distinct dorsal keels and a prominent vertebral whitish or golden double-stripe and two dorsolateral white stripes (see figure 2 in Koppetsch, in prep).
Comparisons are based on species characteristics from Largen & Spawls (2010), Sindaco et al. (2012) and Marques et al. (2019). Differences between Trachylepis boehmei sp. nov. and congeners of similar habitus and size are shown in Table 2 in Koppetsch 2020. 
Comment 
EtymologyNamed after Wolfgang Böhme, German herpetologist at the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn, to honour his comprehensive and passionate research on African herpetofauna, the numerous contributions to its knowledge and his outstanding and ongoing strong promotion and supervision of the author. 
References
  • Koppetsch T. 2020. A new species of Trachylepis (Squamata: Scincidae) from the Amhara Region, Ethiopia, and a key to the Ethiopian Trachylepis. . doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.4859.1.4. PMID: 33056207 Zootaxa 4859 (1): 113-126 - get paper here
 
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