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Varanus tsukamotoi KISHIDA, 1929

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Higher TaxaVaranidae, Platynota, Varanoidea, Anguimorpha, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Mariana monitor, Saipan monitor
G: Maraiana-Waran
Japanese: Tsukamoto Ohtokage 
SynonymVaranus tsukamotoi KISHIDA 1929
Varanus tsukamotoi — WEIJOLA et al. 2020 
DistributionMicronesia (Guam, Cocos Island, Saipan, Rota, Pagan, Tinian and Anatahan islands, Marshall Islands: Japtan Island)

Type locality: Saipan, Caroline Islands  
TypesNeotype: USNM 576258, dessignated by Weijola et al. 2020.
Additional specimens: Mariana Islands: Anatahan (USNM 212496); Cocos Island (USNM 494383); Guam (AMNH 137204, USNM 121793, 122462–63, 122465, 122468, 121796, 216368, 216869, 323717, 494380–82, 494582, 507452, 515827–29, 521160); Pagan (USNM 212489, 212491–93); Rota (AMNH 137202–03, 139986–88, USNM 122652–53, 285037); Saipan (SMF 30152–53, USNM 212487–88, 576257, 576259, ZMB 22645); Tinian (USNM 308067); indefinite locality (MNHN 1888 20); Marshall Islands: Enewetak Atoll, Japtan Island (AMNH 78994, USNM 124112–13). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Varanus tsukamotoi can be distinguished from all other members of the V. indicus group by its unique combination of: (i) dorsum black and covered with evenly distributed yellow scales, (ii) tongue dark blue/grey, (iii) yellow temporal stripe usually absent, (iv) low scale counts around the head (P: 31–40), tail base (Q: 54–74) and midbody (S: 101–126), and (v) usually prominent dark pigmentation in the gular region (Weijola et al. 2020).

Comparisons with other members of Euprepiosaurus: Varanus tsukamotoi can be distinguished from V. caerulivirens, V. colei, V. doreanus, V. finschi, V. jobiensis, V. juxtindicus, V. melinus, V. obor, V. semotus and V. yuwonoi by having an entirely dark blue/grey tongue rather than (at least partly) pink or yellow tongue; from V. cerambonensis by the absence of a yellow temporal stripe, dorsal bands composed of yellow scales and lower midbody scale counts (S: 101–126 versus 131–150 in V. cerambonensis); from V. douarrha by the absence of dorsal ocelli and lower midbody scale counts (S: 101–126 versus 129–153 in V. douarrha); from V. indicus by its lower average scale counts around head and tail base (P: 31–40 (34.8) versus 36–47 (42) in V. indicus, Q: 54–74 (67) versus 60–99 (78.4) in V. indicus, S: 101–126 (113.5) versus 100–145 (124) in V. indicus) and by having dark pigmentation on the throat (versus usually cream-coloured in V. indicus); from V. lirungensis by the absence of dorsal cross-bands composed of yellow scales, dark pigmentation on the gular region (versus pink in V. lirungensis) and by lower scale counts around head, tail base and midbody (P: 31– 40 versus 38–47 in V. lirungensis, Q: 54–74 versus 79–88 in V. lirungensis, S: 101–126 versus 134–151 in V. lirungensis); and from V. rainerguentheri by the absence of a yellow temporal stripe, by the presence of dark pigmentation on the throat (versus a mostly light-coloured throat in V. rainerguentheri), and by lower scale counts around tail base, midbody and along the venter (Q: 54–74 versus 76–82 in V. rainerguentheri, S: 101–126 versus 120–139 in V. rainerguentheri, T: 78–88 versus 90–94 in V. rainerguentheri). 
CommentSynonymy: Weijola et al. 2020 removed Varanus tsukamotoi from the synonymy of V. indicus. 
EtymologyKishida named this species in honour of Dr Iwasaburo Tsukamoto, who supported his expedition to the South Sea Islands. 
  • Buden, Donald W.; Danko Taboroši, Maria Kottermair, Andrea Jalandoni & Matthew Martin 2020. Reptiles of the Northern Marshall Islands. Pacific Science 74 (2): 189-209 - get paper here
  • Kishida, K. 1929. A new monitor from the island of Saipan, South Sea Islands. Lansania 1: 13-16
  • Weijola V, Vahtera V, Koch A, Schmitz A, Kraus F. 2020. Taxonomy of Micronesian monitors (Reptilia: Squamata: Varanus): endemic status of new species argues for caution in pursuing eradication plans. R. Soc. Open Sci. 7: 200092 - get paper here
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