Another new species of skink from northwestern Vietnam

A new species of skink was discovered in the northwest of Vietnam by Vietnamese, Russian, and German scientists. The name of this new species, Darevsky’s Ground Skink Scincella darevskii Nguyen, Ananjeva, Orlov, Rybaltovsky & Boehme, 2010, is dedicated to the memory of the late Prof. Dr. Ilya S. Darevsky, a famous herpetologist of the Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia, in recognition of his great contributions to lizard systematics and training of many Vietnamese zoologists since 1970s.

Darevsky’s Ground Skink Scincella darevskii. Photo: Nguyen Quang Truong.


The holotype of the new species was collected at an elevation of 1450 m above sea level, in Tuan Giao District, Dien Bien Province. Darevsky’s Ground Skink is known as the largest species of the genus Scincella in Asia, with a snout-vent length of up to 87 mm. In addition, the new species is distinguished from its congeners by the following characteristics: the fore and hind-limbs have five digits; the lower eyelid has an undivided opaque window; the prefrontals are separated; there are five supraoculars and one primary temporal; external ear openings are present, each with 3 lobules on anterior margin; there are 28 midbody scale rows; dorsal scales are smooth, in six rows across the back, and the median rows are not widened.  The dorsum and tail base are bronze brown with a light dorsolateral stripe from the neck to hindlimb. The upper lateral zone has a brown stripe from nostril to the anterior corner of eye and from the posterior corner of the eye to the tail base and another light stripe running from nostril across below the eye to tympanum and continuing to the anterior groin.


Description of this new species was published in the Russian Journal of Herpetology (Volome 17, No. 4) in December, 2010. This research is a part of the cooporation between the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology and the Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences.


Besides the recently described species, Huulien Ground Skink Scincella apraefrontalis from Lang Son Province, this is the second new species of skink in 2010 and the ninth species of Scincella known in Vietnam.


Translated by Nguyen Quang Truong
Link to Vietnamese version

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