Lamprolepis cf. smaragdina (Lesson, 1826)

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 : 39-40

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Lamprolepis cf. smaragdina (Lesson, 1826)


Lamprolepis cf. smaragdina (Lesson, 1826) Fig. 18 View Figure 18

Common names.

(E) Emerald Tree Skink. *(T) Mamór modok ( mamór = skink, modok = green).


In individuals of Lamprolepis cf. smaragdina that possess the name-giving color pattern, identification is easy. There are no other lizards reported from Timor whose anterior body coloration is an emerald green. Individuals that lack this color pattern may be confused with Eutropis cf. multifasciata , although in a direct comparison the darker dorsal coloration and lateral spotting, along with stouter body proportions, of the latter should be diagnostic. Individuals of Lamprolepis are generally found on the upper portion of the trunk of trees and palms, just below the foliage or crown, into which they will quickly retreat when disturbed during basking, whereas individuals of Eutropis were not observed on trunks at all and will retreat into grassy areas or under ground-level cover.

Collection and natural history.

The several specimens of Lamprolepis cf. smaragdina we collected were taken from the trunks of trees by blow-piping or hand-collecting. Several individuals were observed basking in sunspots very close to a specific tree, to which they retreated when disturbed. A retreat would usually occur in stages, first by climbing the trunk of the apparent 'home tree’ to just below the tree’s foliage while the skink maintained visual contact with the intruding human and then, when the threat persisted, a total retreat into the dense foliage or crown of the tree or palm. We were able to find what we believe to be the same individuals of Lamprolepis cf. smaragdina on the same tree during several days of observation, indicating that these lizards display strong site fidelity.

Unlike the entirely emerald green Lamprolepis smaragdina we have encountered elsewhere (HK in Peninsular Malaysia, MOS and SJR in Papua New Guinea), the solid bright green coloration of Timor-Leste specimens was limited to the anterior half of the body, posterior to which it morphed into a beige brown with dark dorsal spots and dark lateral striping ( Fig. 18 View Figure 18 ). Two of our specimens lacked any green coloration and sported a beige brown, pepper-and-salt patterned dorsal coloration. Coloration was, surprisingly, not sexually dichromatic, and among the two males and two females in our collection both sexes are represented by one bicolor green and brown specimen and one entirely brown specimen.

Taxonomic comments.

The pepper-and-salt color pattern we observed in our specimens is reminiscent of the patterns described for Lamprolepis s. moluccarum by ( Barbour (1911, 1912) and for Lamprolepis s. elberti by Sternfeld (1920). We defer the decision on the exact taxonomic allocation of our specimens until a more detailed comparison, to include the named Wallacean subspecies of Lamprolepisv smaragdina , has been conducted.