Eremiascincus, Greer, 1979

Kaiser, Hinrich, Carvalho, Venancio Lopes, Ceballos, Jester, Freed, Paul, Heacox, Scott, Lester, Barbara, Richards, Stephen J., Trainor, Colin R., Sanchez, Caitlin & O'Shea, Mark, 2011, The herpetofauna of Timor-Leste: a first report, ZooKeys 109, pp. 19-86 : 38-39

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Genus Eremiascincus Fig. 16 View Figure 16

Common names.

(E) Night Skinks. *(T) Mamór kalan ( mamór = skink, kalan = night).


Lizards of the genus Eremiascincus are relatively slender, long-bodied skinks with rounded, elongate, conical tails and reduced limbs. On Timor it is necessary to distinguish between at least five species of Eremiascincus ( Eremiascincus timorensis , Eremiascincus antoniorum , Eremiascincus emigrans , Eremiascincus sp. 1 [Ca CMD 365], Eremiascincus sp. 2 [Ca CMD 474]), and the distinctions between these are rather finite.

Collection and natural history.

We collected two of the species of Eremiascincus found on Timor. Eremiascincus sp. 1 ( Fig. 16A View Figure 16 ) is a species whose distribution is apparently limited to elevations above 1000 m. Individuals were primarily found under logs and rocks, and were never encountered in the open during the day. Eremiascincus sp. 1 was the highest-altitude reptile we recorded in Timor-Leste (southwestern slopes of Mt. Ramelau, 2046 m). We found three individuals of Eremiascincus sp. 2 ( Fig. 16B View Figure 16 ) among fallen and decaying palm fronds near Loré 1 village, Lautém District. These individuals were found syntopically with many individuals of Carlia sp. 3. Their activity level was highest just before dusk.

Taxonomic comment.

In their recent comprehensive molecular study of desert skinks (Australian members of Eremiascincus Greer, 1979), Mecke et al. (2009) revealed that several species of the polyphyletic genus Glaphyromorphus Wells and Wellington 1983, including the isolepis group sensu Greer (1990), required reassignment to Eremiascincus . This expands the definition of Eremiascincus , previously a genus comprised entirely of desert forms, to one including tropical species. For these species, which includes all named species from Timor as well as the candidate species listed herein, we use the term night skinks since they appear to adopt a more nocturnal or crepuscular activity cycle, in contrast to most other skink species.