Eumeces cholistanensis, Masroor, Rafaqat, 2009

Masroor, Rafaqat, 2009, Description of a new species of Eumeces (Sauria: Scincidae) from Pakistan, Zootaxa 2161, pp. 33-46 : 35-44

publication ID 10.5281/zenodo.188957


persistent identifier

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scientific name

Eumeces cholistanensis

sp. nov.

Eumeces cholistanensis sp. nov.

Figs. 1–8 View FIGURE 1 View FIGURE 2 View FIGURE 3 View FIGURE 4

Holotype: An adult male, PMNH ( Pakistan Museum of Natural History) 984 ( Fig. 2–3 View FIGURE 2 View FIGURE 3 ), collected from pitfall trap placed at Baghdad-i-Jadeed Campus, Islamia University Bahawalpur, Bahawalpur, Punjab province, Pakistan (29º22ˏ43˝ N, 71º46ˏ10˝ E), at an elevation of about 93 m, by Mr. Sarwar on January 0 4, 2002.

Paratypes: PMNH 1198, an adult female collected on May 18, 2002 (snout-vent length 95.6 mm, axillagroin length 51 mm, snout-forelimb length 33 mm, 30 scales around neck, 42 around axilla, 27 around midabdomen, 30 around groin, 21 around tail base, 57 from parietals to level of the anal scale, 66 from postmental to level of anal scale), PMNH 1200, an adult male collected on May 15, 2002 (snout-vent length 88.2 mm, axilla-groin length 44.5 mm, snout-forelimb length 31.1 mm, 31 scales around neck, 37 around axilla, 26 around midbody, 54 from parietals to level of the anal scale, 64 from postmental to level of the anal scale), PMNH 1344, an adult female collected on March 29, 2002 (snout-vent length 102.5 mm, axilla-groin length 55 mm, snout-forelimb length 34.1 mm, 30 scales around neck, 41 around axilla, 27 around mid-abdomen, 28 around groin, 20 around tail base, 56 from parietals to level of the anal scale, 65 from postmental to level of the anal scale), PMNH 1731, an adult male, collected on August 10, 2004 (snout-vent length 96 mm, axillagroin length 52 mm, snout-forelimb length 33.2 mm, 31 scales around neck, 28 around midbody, 28 around groin, 20 around tail base, 56 from parietals to level of the anal scale, 67 from postmental to level of the anal scale). All type specimens were collected from pitfall trap placed at Baghdad-i-Jadeed Campus, Islamia University Bahawalpur, Bahawalpur, Punjab province, Pakistan.

Diagnosis: Large-sized skink, with a dorsal pattern of seven dark brown stripes separated by alternating light narrower stripes, extending on to the tail; nasal scale chiefly contacting the first supralabial while slightly touching the second; no postnasal; Interparietal and frontal of the same shape, the length of former more than half the length of latter; two azygous postmentals; 54–57 scales in paired middorsal row of wider scales; 64–67 scales from postmental to anal scale; posterior loreal and presubocular longer than deep; no intercalary scales between subdigital lamellae.

Description of Holotype: Head relatively long (Head length/SVL ratio 0.22), wide (Head width/ Head length ratio 0.64) and slightly elevated (Head height/ Head length ratio 0.53). Rostral slightly broader than high, triangular, distinctly narrower than frontonasal in dorsal view, broadly truncate posteriorly. Supranasals dorsolateral, slightly less than twice as long as broad, reaching posteriorly to form a suture above nasals, the length of which equals the breadth of the rostral, visible from above. Frontonasal slightly smaller than each prefrontal, wider than long, its width less than one and a one half times its length, extending considerably forward between supranasals, laterally contacting anterior loreal. Two Prefrontals, almost hexagonal, forming a median suture, contacting laterally with both loreals, first superciliary and first supraocular. Frontal as long as its distance from rostral tip, abruptly truncated to a median point at anterior and posterior end, its length less than twice its greatest breadth, in contact with three supraoculars. Frontoparietals hexagonal, forming a median suture which is in line with that of prefrontals, the size of each slightly less than prefrontals.

Interparietal longer than broad, more than half the length of frontal and of the same shape, twice as long as frontoparietals, abruptly truncated at both ends, posteriorly bordered by first pair of nuchals ( Fig. 5). Parietals longer than broad, extending antero-laterally to contact the fourth supraocular, seventh superciliary and fourth postocular. Five pairs of much broadened nuchals, the anteriormost pair meeting the interparietal medially, a single azygous nuchal on both sides anterior to the five larger pairs, extending more than half the length of parietals. Nasal slightly longer than broad, chiefly contacting first supralabial and in narrow contact with second, nasal suture oblique, passing above naris, meeting rostral at its mid-lateral side, lower nasal larger, bears major part of postero-lateral naris which lies posterior to naso-rostral suture (Fig. 7). Anterior loreal rectangular, oblique, less than one and one half times higher than wide, higher than posterior loreal, touching supranasal, frontonasal and prefrontal; posterior loreal longer than high, its length slightly more than its width, narrowing posteriorly, forming a continuous subocular series with eight postsuboculars, first broadest, second longest, second presubocular longer than broad, smaller than anterior. A distinct small triangular preocular with two posterior smaller ones forms a series with several more or less longer scales extending on to the posterior of eye, separating supraciliaries from palpebral scales.

A series of seven superciliaries, first largest, a little smaller than first supraocular, extending on dorsum of head to contact with prefrontal, second longest on right side of the head while third on left side, the size of seventh about half of first and its height less than first. A pair of small postoculars and three oblique rows of granular scales touching lower palpebrals. Four Supraoculars, first three in contact with frontal, parietal separates fourth from upper secondary temporal. A single primary temporal, quadrangular, oblique, secondary temporals two, upper less broad than parietal, lower oblique, anteriorly touching primary temporal.

Eight supralabials on right side of the head, first five anterior to eye, sixth beneath eye, its length slightly more than its greatest breadth, ten supralabials on left side, first six anterior to eye, first smallest on both sides, rectangular, narrower along oral orifice, sixth, seventh and eighth on the right side and seventh, eighth and ninth on the left side largest, eighth supralabial on the right side and ninth on the left side each separated from ear by four scales. Preocular slightly distinct from palpebral scales. Ear opening vertical, oval, preauricular lobes four on each side, upper three broad, reaching to middle of the auditory meatus, fourth very small.

Mental scale slightly broader than rostral. A pair of azygous postmentals, first slightly broader than mental and slightly longer, second about less than one and one half times as longer as first, mesially produced posteriorly between first pair of chin shields, which are in contact. Three pairs of chin shields, first in contact, second separated from each other by a scale while third by three scales. Infralabials seven on both sides, fifth and sixth on right side and fourth and fifth on left side largest and of equal size.

Body scales smooth, shiny, imbricate, regular, arranged in parallel longitudinal rows, scales of median dorsal two rows 2 to3 times as long as broad, 56 scales from parietal to the level of the anal scale. All ventrals of similar dimensions, except abdominals, which are slightly larger, 67 mid-ventrals from postmental to level of the anal scale. 28 scales around neck, 38 around axilla, 28 around midbody, around groin 29, and 56 from armpit to groin.

Median dorsal pair of enlarged scales extends on the tail dorsum. Tail squarish in cross section at base, becoming cylindrical at middle, with a very gradual taper to its pointed tip. A median ventral series of transversely enlarged subcaudals, 100 in holotype with complete tail. A pair of large median preanal scales surrounded antero-laterally by 0 9 smaller scales, no tubercular large scale on the sides of anal slit, four postanal transverse rows of smaller scales, with a shallow transverse anal pit, 22 scales round the tail base just posterior to the lateral anal slit.

Limbs short, when stretched forward, anterior claws hardly reaching to eye, posterior reaching to the level of mid-abdomen, when thighs are bent at right angle to the body, toes freely overlap. Limbs with smooth cycloid scales in parallel longitudinal rows, 16 at mid upper-arm, 14 at mid fore-arm, mid-thigh 22 and 14 around mid-femur. No intercalary scales between subdigital lamellae. Claws strong, with a broad basal portion and long sharp tips.

FIGURE 7. Side view of the head of the Holotype PMNH 984, notice the nasal scale mainly resting on the 1st supralabial while slightly touching the second as well.

Color (in life): Seven vivid dark brown longitudinal stripes on body; a single median dorsal stripe extends from behind interparietal to slightly posterior to the level of vent, second stripe dorsal, paired, extends from behind parietal and join each other at the anterior third of the tail, third pair of stripes is broadest of all, starts from behind eye, extends laterally to groin, then along lateral side of about 3/4ths of the tail, fourth pair originates from behind ear above shoulders to groin. The dark brown stripes are separated from each other by narrower lighter stripes, making the pattern distinct. Head uniform brownish except dark brown stripe on posterior three supraoculars on both sides. Supralabials with brownish specks in all members of the type series. Lips, chin and venter light yellowish.

Color in formalin: Same as in life.

Variation: Table 1 View TABLE 1 summarizes pholidosis and meristic variation of the type series. Besides sex, the specimens differ in the number of nuchals; 2/3 pairs (PMNH 1198), 4/5 pairs (PMNH 1200), 4 pairs (PMNH 1344) and 3/4 pairs (PMNH 1731), supralabial touching eye; 6th and 7th (PMNH 984) while 6th in all other specimens. The scale counts of dorsals, ventrals and lamellae under toes and fingers, however, show unique values for every specimen within a certain range. All the paratypes have broken tails.

Etymology: The name cholistanensis refers to the part of the Cholistan desert lying on the eastern side of the Indus River and southeastern side of the Sutlej River, southeastern Punjab, Pakistan, from where the species was collected.

Natural history: Eumeces cholistanensis sp. nov. lives in sandy areas with sparse vegetation ( Fig. 8 View FIGURE 8 ), mainly consisting of Calligonum polygonoides, Haloxylon salicornicum, Aerva persica, Dipterygium glaucum, Aristida adscensionis, Crotalaria burhia, Lasiurus scindicus, Leptadenia pyrotechnica and Cymbopogon jwarancusa . At the type locality, it is sympatric with the much more common Eurylepis taeniolatus . An analysis of the gut contents showed that the new species is exclusively insectivorous, feeding on ant-lions, beetles, termites, spiders and some dipteran flies.

Conservation: Various local physicians called “hakims” and “sanyasies” prepare recipes from the dried skink species including Ophiomorus tridactylus , Eurylepis t. taeniolatus and Eumeces cholistanensis sp. nov. which are thought to have aphrodisiac properties. As a result of this illegal practice of ruthless killing of these important desert species, there has been a sharp decline in their populations.

and indothalensis from Taylor, 1935 (above); Data only of blythianus from Minton, 1966 (middle); Data of

indothalensis , zarudnyi and blythianus from Khan, 1997, 2006 (below). All the measurements are in millimeter (mm.)

(*= broken tail).

SVL/Tail Length Ratio 0.69 0.60 0.47 0.53 0.51–0.61 0.66–0.65 0.48–0.50


Supralabials 8– 10 8 8 8 8 8

Supralabial touching eye 6–7 6 continued next page.

Eumeces cholistanensis sp. nov. exhibits typical characters of the schneiderii species-group: presence of two loreals, two broadened, separate middorsal scale rows, conspicuous ear lobules with ear opening not fully covered, and absence of postnasal scale. It is, however, distinguished from other members of this group, including Eumeces blythianus , indothalensis , zarudnyi , princeps , pavimentatus and schneiderii , by both morphological characteristics and its very distant distribution ( Table 2 View TABLE 2 ).

Eumeces blythianus (Anderson, 1871) differs from the new species in having a single postmental (2 azygous postmentals in E. cholistanensis sp. nov.), 30 scales around midbody (versus 26–28 scale rows), 59–60 scale rows from parietals to level of vent (versus 54–57 scale rows), 3 pairs of nuchals (versus 3–6 pairs), prefrontals contacting supranasals (versus no contact) and posterior loreal higher than long (versus longer than high). Taylor (1935: Plate 6) illustrates Eumeces blythianus (BMNH from Afridi country Finn, 1898 (Waziristan, southern borderline of N.W.F.P. with Afghanistan). Taylor’s photographs, obtained from the British Museum of Natural History (now The Natural History Museum) show a dorsal pattern of longitudinal stripes on olive-brown dorsum separated by narrower light stripes, somewhat matching with the dorsal pattern of the new species ( Fig. 1–6 View FIGURE 1 View FIGURE 2 View FIGURE 3 View FIGURE 4 ). A similar striped young E. blythianus from Karachi ( Minton, 1966: Plate 19, fig. 2) is reported to have unicolor pink adult phase ( Minton, 1966: Plate 19, fig. 1). Mertens (1969) reported similar lizards from Astola Island off the Karachi cost. A pinkish unicolor skink has been reported from Sheikh Manda near Quetta, Balochistan by Khan and Ahmed (1987). Eumeces princeps also has a striped adult pattern, however, its juveniles are patternless ( Mertens, 1969).

Eumeces zarudnyi (Nikolsky, 1899) from southwestern Iran and Balochistan (Loveridge, 1959) differs from the new species in having 5–6 preauricular lobes (versus 3–4), wider head of 20 mm (versus 13.1–15 mm), uniform gray dorsum (versus striped pattern), 26 scales around midbody (versus 26–28 scales), scales of the two middle vertebral rows twice as wide as long (versus scales of median dorsal two rows 2 to 3 times longer than broad) and tail length relatively shorter, i.e. 147–148% of SVL versus 169% of SVL in holotype of E. cholistanensis sp. nov.).

The nominate form, E. schneiderii (Daudin, 1802) , differs from the new species in having 66 scales from parietals to above vent (versus 54–57), 24 scales around midbody (versus 26–28), frontal much longer than its distance to the tip of the snout (versus frontal as long as its distance to the rostral tip), prefrontals and frontoparietals pentagonal (versus hexagonal), interparietal little larger than frontoparietals (versus twice as long as frontoparietals), tertiary temporal present (versus absent), three large and one smaller preauricular lobules as long as the width of the ear (versus 3–4 preauricular lobes reaching the middle of the ear), distributional range and its dorsal color pattern.

Eumeces cholistanensis sp. nov. differs from E. princeps (Eichwald, 1839) in having a higher ratio of snout-forelimb and axilla-groin length (0.62–0.70 versus 0.48 in E. princeps ), frontal as long as its distance to rostral tip (versus frontal little longer than its distance to the end of snout), 26–28 scale around midbody (versus 26), 54–57 scales from parietal to level of vent (versus 64), fewer subcaudals (100 versus 118), higher number of lamellae under fingers (6–7, 9–10, 10–11, 9–11 and 7–8 versus 5, 8, 10, 12, 6 in E. princeps ) and toes (6–8, 9, 12–13, 15–16, 10–11 versus 5, 8, 10, 14, 9), no intercalary scales on toes (versus intercalary scales present), color pattern and its distributional range.

The new species can be differentiated from the E. pavimentatus (I. Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, 1827) in having 26–28 scale rows around midbody (versus 24), nasal divided (versus nasal undivided), lower head width to head length ratio (0.61–0.66 versus 0.83), 28–31 scales around narrower part of neck (versus 27–28), 20–22 scales around base of tail (versus 19), 54–57 scales from parietal to level of vent (versus 66–68), 100 subcaudals (versus 126), dorsal coloration and distributional range.

The recently described form E. indothalensis ( Khan and Khan, 1997) from Pakistan is similar in dorsal coloration but differs from Eumeces cholistanensis sp. nov. in having a nasal scale contacting the first supralabial but not the second (versus narrow contact with the second supralabial), interparietal about half the size of frontal (versus more than half the length of frontal), 32–33 scales around narrower part of the neck (versus 28–31), smaller snout-vent length (57–60 mm versus 88.2–102.7 mm), head width (9–11 mm versus 13.1–15 mm), head length (13–17 mm versus 21.1–23.3 mm), a single pair of nuchals (versus 2–6 pairs) and 60–63 scales from postmental to vent (versus 64–67).

TABLE 1. Mensural and meristic features of the type series of the Eumeces cholistanensis sp. nov. All the measurements are in millimeter (mm.) (* = broken tail).

PMNH N0. 984 1198 1200 1344 1731
Sex Male Female Male Female Male
Snout-Vent Length (SVL) 102.7 95.6 88.2 102.5 96
Tail Length (TL) 148.5 56.2 * 22.6 * 121.2 * 52 *
SVL/Tail Length Ratio 0.69 - - - -
Head Width (HW) 15.0 14.0 13.1 14.7 13.4
Head Length (HL) 23.3 22.1 21.1 22.3 22.1
Head Width/Head Length Ratio 0.64 0.63 0.62 0.66 0.61
Head Height (HH) 12.4 12.1 11.6 12.1 11.7
Head Height/Head Width Ratio 0.83 0.86 0.89 0.82 0.87
Axilla-Groin Length (AGL) 55.1 51 44.5 55 52
Snout-Eye Length (SEL) 8.1 7.5 7.4 7.7 8
Snout-Ear Length (SErL) 20.5 19.5 18.4 19.6 19.1
Snout-Eye Length/Snout-Ear Length Ratio 0.40 0.38 0.40 0.39 0.42
Snout-Forelimb Length (SFL) 34.3 33 31.1 34.1 33.2
Snout-Fore limb/Axilla-Groin Length Ratio 0.62 0.65 0.70 0.62 0.64
Supralabials 8–10 9 9 9 9

TABLE 2. Mensural and meristic data for Eumeces cholistanensis sp. nov. and its congeners. Data except cholistanensis

Characters E. E. cholistanensis blythianus E. zarudnyi E. pavimentatus E. princeps E. schneiderii E. indothalensis
Snout-Vent Length (SVL) 88.2–102.7 90 93–111 85–89 111 110–115 79–136 125 55–160 57–60
Tail Length 148.5 150 140–170 149–154 236 220–240 148–209 * 193 * 94–259  

Peabody Museum of Natural History














Eumeces cholistanensis

Masroor, Rafaqat 2009

Eumeces zarudnyi

Nikolsky 1899

Eumeces blythianus

Anderson 1871
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