Tuesday, January 12, 2016

[Herpetology • 2015] Trachylepis adamastor Lost in the Middle of the Sea, Found in the Back of the Shelf: A New Giant Species of Trachylepis (Squamata: Scincidae) from Tinhosa Grande Islet, Gulf of Guinea

Trachylepis adamastor Ceríaco, 2015
Lagartixa-adamastor | Adamastor Skink


A new species of Trachylepis is described from Tinhosa Grande islet, São Tomé e Príncipe, Gulf of Guinea. Tinhosa Grande islet is a small (20.5 ha), isolated desert islet used by several bird communities as a nesting place. The new species is distinguished from its congeners by its color pattern, size and lepidosis. Due to its limited geographical distribution the new species appears to be one of the most vulnerable vertebrate species on the planet. In this study we provide a brief discussion on the natural history of the new species, as well as conservation concerns and suggestions.

Keywords: Conservation, São Tomé e Príncipe, taxonomy, Tinhosas, Trachylepis adamastor

FIGURE 3. Live photo of Trachylepis adamastor sp. nov. (specimen not collected), from Tinhosa Grande.
Photo by Ross Wanless.

The islanders of Tinhosa Great and Small Tinhosa
photographed by plane LUÍS CERÍACO

Distribution. As far as presently known, the species distribution is restricted to Tinhosa Grande Islet, Republic of São Tomé e Príncipe, West Africa.

Habitat and natural history notes. The habitat used by the species is the rocks and rock outcrops of the islet. The trophic ecology of the species is currently unknown. The habitat is almost deprived of any type of vegetation and very few invertebrates occur in the islet, although live specimens were observed eating the yolk of recently broken bird eggs (Nuno Barros & Simon Valle pers. comm.; Fig. 4). The population appears stable and reaching high densities (Nuno Barros & Simon Valle pers. comm.). The ecological relations between the newly-described species and the nesting birds is unknown, but trophic relationships can be suspected, namely the predation of arthropods associated with bird nests, as the case of other reptiles from small oceanic islands and atolls (Ineich et al. 2009). The species appear to share the islet with another reptile, a still unidentified Hemidactylus sp. (Nuno Barros, António Monteiro pers. comm.).

Etymology. The specific epithet 'adamastor' refers to the mythical giant inhabiting a rock "in the end of the sea" present in the Luis de Camões famous odyssey 'Os Lusíadas', and is applied here as a substantive in apposition. We propose the Portuguese common name Lagartixa-adamastor and the English common name of Adamastor Skink.

Ceríaco, Luis M. P. 2015. Lost in the Middle of the Sea, Found in the Back of the Shelf: A New Giant Species of Trachylepis (Squamata: Scincidae) from Tinhosa Grande Islet, Gulf of Guinea. Zootaxa.  3973(3): 511–527. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3973.3.6

FIGURE 4. Trachylepis adamastor sp. nov. feeding on a recently broken egg (specimen not collected).
Photo by Ross Wanless.

On a rocky deserted islet off the coast of São Tomé e Príncipe, Gulf of Guinea, lives a lizard new to Science. A Portuguese scientist has just described this new species in a paper publish in Zootaxa science magazine. It’s the Adamastor Skink.

Num rochedo perto da ilha do Príncipe habita a inigualável lagartixa-adamastor http://www.publico.pt/n1702382