Discovery of a new reptilian species from Vietnam

A new lizard species for science was recently discovered by the scientists from the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources (VAST, Vietnam), the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig, and the Cologne Zoo (Germany). The new species, namely Huulien Ground Skink Scincella apraefrontalis Nguyen, Nguyen, Boehme & Ziegler, 2010, was described based on a single specimen from Huu Lien Nature Reserve, Lang Son Province. The common name of this species is originated from the name of the type locality and the scientific name derives from Latin: apraefrontalis – meaning “without prefrontals”.

The new species is a small-sized skink with the snout-vent length of 36 mm. The main identification features of this species are: lower eyelids with undivided opaque window; both fore- and hind-limbs with five digits, no prefrontal scales;  nasal fused with first supralabial; six supralabials; no external ear openings; 18 midbody scale rows; dorsum and tail base bronze brown with some indistinct darker spots in anterior part of each scale. The description of this new species was published in Folia Zooligica (No. 59, Volume 2, 2010), a zoological journal of Czech Republic.




Huulien Ground Skink Scincella apraefrontalis. Photo: Thomas Ziegler


The type specimen was collected in the limestone forest within the Huu Lien Nature Reserve. The scientists considered that because of living in the dry habitat in the karst area, the small size and the loss of the external ear opening of this skink may help to reduce water loss. This is also the second new species of lizards known from the Huu Lien Nature Reserve, after the Huulien Leopard Gecko Goniurosaurus huulienensis, which was described by the Russian and Vietnamese herpetologists in 2008.


Huulien Leopard Gecko Goniurosaurus huulienensis. Photo: Nguyen Thien Tao




Author: Nguyen Quang Truong
Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources


Link to Vietnamese Version

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