Tuesday, May 19, 2020

[Herpetology • 2020] Panaspis annettesabinae • A New Species of African Snake-Eyed Skink (Scincidae: Panaspis) from Ethiopia

Panaspis annettesabinae
 Colston, Pyron & Bauer, 2020

Sabin’s Snake-Eyed Skink  ||  DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4779.2.2

A recent molecular phylogenetic revision of the snake-eyed skinks (genus Panaspis Cope, 1868) uncovered extensive cryptic diversity, including several new species from throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Here, we describe one of these from Ethiopia as Panaspis annettesabinae sp. nov. This description is based on a previous molecular phylogeny and morphological, scalation, and coloration data collected from the type specimen. Phylogenetic analyses place the species alone in what we term the P. annettesabinae species group from Ethiopia. This group forms the sister lineage to a large southern African radiation and suggests a potential northern origin for much of the extant diversity of Panaspis. Many new taxa have recently been discovered in the genus and region, and there are several historical records of Panaspis from elsewhere in Ethiopia. Thus, we suggest that the range of this new species (known only from a single specimen at present) may be much larger, and that additional undescribed species may exist in northern sub-Saharan Africa.

Keywords: Reptilia, Ethiopia, Panaspis annettesabinae, arid faunas, scincid lizards, cryptic radiations

 Holotype of  Panaspis annettesabinae (TJC264, ZMNH H2019,2176) in life.
 Photo by Timothy J. Colston

Panaspis annettesabinae sp. nov.  

Etymology. The specific epithet “annettesabinae” honors Annette Sabin of the Sabin family, long-time philanthropic supporters of biodiversity conservation. We propose the English vernacular name “Sabin’s Snake-Eyed Skink.”

Timothy J. Colston, R. Alexander Pyron and Aaron M. Bauer. 2020. A New Species of African Snake-Eyed Skink (Scincidae: Panaspis) from Ethiopia. Zootaxa. 4779(2); 190–200. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4779.2.2