Researchers find that a single species of skink is actually four distinct species.
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Elegant rainbow skink.
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Orange-flanked rainbow skink.
Australian researchers have discovered three new lizard species in Townsville, Australia that were previously thought to be a single species. Two of the lizards, the elegant rainbow skink (Carlia decora) and the orange-flanked rainbow skink (Carlia rubigo) are both small skinks that can be found in tropical areas of Australia. The skinks are so named because of their striking coloration. "Decora" is beautiful in Latin, and "rubigo" means rust in Latin. The male elegant rainbow skink has a distinct orange stripe running the length of its side, with a more faded stripe running closer to its belly, a brownish head, and brown legs. The orange-flanked rainbow skink has an orange-yellowish coloration on its back with what appears to be three slightly tinged orange stripes, beige-whitish legs and a bluish head. The skinks can be found in forests in the Townsville and Mackay areas of Queensland, Australia.
The third species is an already discovered species that the researchers believe should be elevated from subspecies status to full species status. The researchers say that the skink, called the Whitsunday rainbow skink (Carlia inconnexa) is different enough from other Australian populations of skinks due in part to where it can be found. The Whitsunday rainbow skink can only be found on Whitsunday, Hook, Hayman and Lindeman Islands.
The researchers, Dr. Conrad Hoskin from James Cook University's School of Marine and Tropical Biology, and Patrick Couper with the Queensland Museum, examined the morphology, color pattern, and genetics of these three species with that of a fourth species, the Open-litter rainbow skink (Carlia pectoralis), which is more widespread than the other three skinks. They determined that Carlia pectoralis is actually comprised of four different species of skinks: Carlia pectoralis, Carlia decora, Carlia rubigo, and Carlia inconnexa.
Their paper, "Description of two new Carlia species (Reptilia: Scincidae) from north-east Australia, elevation of Carlia pectoralis inconnexa Ingram & Covacevich 1989 to full species status, and redescription of Carlia pectoralis (de Vis 1884)" was published in the journal Zootaxa. The complete paper in PDF format can be found here.