New lizard species found in central Vietnam

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Shea forest skink, a new skink species found in Kon Tum Plateau in south central Vietnam. PHOTO COURTESY OF WILDLIFE AT RISK and VIETNAM ACADEMY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Scientists from Germany, the US, and Vietnam discovered a new species of skink in the Kon Tum Plateau and reported it in Zootaxa, a zoological taxonomy journal, November 4.

According to Wildlife at Risk (WAR), Nguyen Quang Truong, a biologist at the Institute of Ecological and Biological Resources, and four WAR experts discovered the forest skink of the genus Sphenomorphus during a biodiversity survey in a forest in Ba To District, Quang Ngai Province, in May and June 2012.

The site is in a transitional area between the Kon Tum Plateau in the Central Highlands Province of the same name and the lowlands of Quang Ngai Province.

The scientists named it shea forest skink after Australian scientist Glenn Shea, who has made great contributions to the study of skinks in the Asia-Pacific, WAR said.

The animal, around 94 mm long including a 59-mm tail, lacks external ears. It has scaly lower eyelids and 20 rows of midbody scales, Truong said in an article published on the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology's website.

The head, back, and top of its tail are bronze brown and glittering with small black spots.

On both sides is a single thin long black stripe running from behind the eyes to the top of the tail. It also has black spots on its ribs and a cream-colored belly.

It lives beneath the leaf litter on the ground of the evergreen forest in Kon Tum Plateau at an altitude of 1,000 m above sea level, he said.

The discovery brings the total number of Sphenomorphus species in Vietnam to 12, WAR said.

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