14 October 2011

Golden Grass Mabuya - Dhahran Hills

A few more Skinks have been seen in the garden where they particularly like resting from the sun under or behind our large plant containers. Luckily Abdulla saw one of these lizards in Bahrain on 24th September when we were ringing together and showed it to me. I asked him if he knew the name of the species as I had seen one before in Dhahran but could not find out what species it was, so when he got home he kindly sent me the Latin name of it. The Latin name has since changed as these lizards were formally known as Mabuya aurata and were generally regarded as three subspecies that were recognized on the basis of colour pattern and number of gular and ventral scales. Mausfeld et al. (2002) partitioned the genus Mabuya into four genera and restricted the application of the name Mabuya to the South American clade of these skinks. Therefore the skinks known formerly as M. aurata are assigned with the generic name Trachylepis. Trachylepis septemtaeniata (Reuss, 1834) is the valid name for the populations, which are characterised by third supraocular shield being in contact with the frontal shield (see diagram) and by pattern of four longitudinal rows of small dark spots on the dorsum (the spots can fuse anteriorly and disappear posteriorly). This species is known from Eritrea, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan (Moravec et al. (2006).

Moravec, J.L., Franzen, M. & Böhme, W. (2006): Notes on the taxonomy, nomenclature and distribution of the Trachylepis (formerly Mabuya) aurata (Linnaeus, 1758) complex. Proceedings of the 13th Congress of the Societas Europaea Herpetologica. pp. 89-93
Mausfeld, P., Schmitz, A., Böhme, W., Misof, B., Vrcibradic, D., Rocha, C.F.D. (2002): Phylogenetic affi nities of Mabuya atlantica Schmidt, 1945, endemic to the Atlantic Ocean archipelago of Fernando de Noronha (Brazil): necessity of partitioning the genus Mabuya Fitzinger, 1826 (Scincidae: Lygosominae). Zool. Anz. 241: 281- 293.

Difference in head scalation between Trachylepis aurata and T. septemtaeniata. Third supraocular shield separated from the frontal shield in aurata (left) and in contact with the frontal shield in septemtaeniata (right).