Tachygyia microlepis (Duméril & Bibron)

Short-legged Tongan Skink (Tachygyia microlepis)

The enigmatic Short-legged Tongan Skink was described in the year 1839.

This species, which may well have been endemic to the island of Tongatapu, is known from only two specimens that were collected during the L’Astrolabe expedition in 1827.

The Short-legged Tongan Skink was a quite large terrestrial species with somewhat reduced legs, it probably fell prey to the numerous feral mammals, like cats, dogs, pigs and rats, that had been imported to the Tongan islands, both by Polynesians and Europeans.

The species is now generally considered extinct.

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References:

[1] G. R. Zug; I. Ineich; G. Pregill; A. M. Hamilton: Lizards of Tonga with Description of a New Tongan Treeskink (Squamata: Scincidae: Emoia samoensis Group). Pacific Science 66(2): 225-237. 2012

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Lepidodactylus tepukapili Zug, Watling, Alefaio, Alefaio & Ludescher

Tepuka Gecko (Lepidodactylus tepukapili)

The Tepuka Gecko was described in the year 2003.

The species is so far known exclusively from two of the motu of the Funafuti atoll in Tuvalu – Fuakea and Tepuka.

The animals reach a length of about 8 cm long and is predominantly tinged in several shades of brown.

The nocturnal species spends the day hidden under loose bark and in bark crevices on the trunks of several living trees, specifically fetau (Calophyllum inophyllum L.).

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References:

[1] G. R. Zug; D. Watling; T. Alefaio; S. Alefaio; C. Ludescher: A new gecko (Reptilia: Squamata: Genus Lepidodactylus) from Tuvalu, South-central Pacific. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 116(1): 38-46. 2003

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Photo: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles

(under creative commons license (3.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Emoia concolor (Duméril)

Fiji Green Tree Skink (Emoia concolor)

Distribution:

Fiji: Beqa, Dravuni, Gau, Kadavu, Kia, Koro, Lami, Lau Islands, Moala, Nasoata, Ovalau, Rotuma (?), Taveuni, Vanua Levu, Viti Levu, Viwa, Waya, Yadua Taba, Yagasa

local names:

mokosari – Fiji
sari – Fiji

***

The Fiji Green Tree Skink was described in 1851, it is endemic to the Fijian Islands, possibly except for the outlying Rotuman Islands (there appears to exist at least one specimen that was collected on Rotuma, so it may have formerly occured there as well).

The species is about 20 cm long, it is mainly variably greenish to brownish and well camouflaged.

The Fiji Green Tree Skink is a tree-dwelling species and inhabits most of the forested areas including agricultural and suburban areas, it is less common or completely absent were introduced mongooses are found. [1]

***

Some island populations may constitute distinct subspecies or even species, but further research is needed to proove this assumption.

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References:

[1] Walter C. Brown: Lizards of the genus Emoia (Scincidae) with observations on their evolution and biogeography. California Academy of Sciences 1991

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emoia-concolor-dpr

Photo: Dr. Paddy Ryan; by courtesy of Dr. Paddy Ryan

http://www.ryanphotographic.com

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edited: 01.01.2019

Oligosoma alani (Robb)

Robust Skink (Oligosoma alani)

The Robust Skink, also known as Alan’s Skink, is probably the largest of New Zealand’s skinks.

The species was once common and widespread throughout New Zealand’s North Island, but is now confined to several of the offshore islands and islets.

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oligosoma-alani-dpr

Photo: Dr. Paddy Ryan; by courtesy of Dr. Paddy Ryan

http://www.ryanphotographic.com

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edited: 14.02.2017

Laticauda colubrina (Schneider)

Banded Sea Krait (Laticauda colubrina)

The Banded Sea Krait is widespread throughout the eastern Indian Ocean and Western Pacific, it can be found along the coasts of Asia, Australasia and Australia. Within the Polynesian region it can regularly be found in the waters around Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

The males reach lengths of about 85 cm, females are much larger and reach lengths of up to 1,40 m. The animal has distinct silvery gray and black stripes and a yellowish snout.

The Banded Sea Krait is one of the most venomous snakes in the world, however, it uses its venom only to prey on fish and is otherwise a quite peaceful creature that is not aggressive and only attacks in self-defense.

The snake hunts underwater but returns regularly to land to digest, rest, and reproduce.

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References:

[1] Iulian Gherghel; Monica Papeş; François Brischoux; Tiberiu Sahlean; Alexandru Strugariu: A revision of the distribution of sea kraits (Reptilia, Laticauda) with an updated occurrence dataset for ecological and conservation research. ZooKeys 569: 135-148. 2016

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laticauda-colubrina-mob

Photo: Mark O’Brien

(under creative commons license (4.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0

Emoia cyanura (Lesson)

Coastal Blue-tailed Skink (Emoia cyanura)

Distribution:

Austral Islands: Raivavae, Rapa, Rimatara, Rurutu, Tubuai
Cook Islands: Nassau, Pukapuka, Rarotonga, Tongareva
Fiji: Taveuni, Viti Levu
Gambier Islands: Mangareva
Kiribati: Flint Island, Tabuaeran
Marquesas: Fatu Hiva, Hiva Oa, Mohotani, Nuku Hiva
Niue
Pitcairn Islands: Henderson Island, Oeno, Pitcairn Island
Samoa: Fanuatapu, ‘Upolu, Namu’a, Nu’ulua, Nu’utele, Ofu, Olosega, Tutuila
Society Islands: Huahine, Maupiha’a, Me’eti’a, Mo’orea, Tahiti
Tokelau: Atafu, Fakaofo, Nukunonu
Tonga: ‘Eua; Niuatoputapu; Lifuka (Ha’apai Islands); Tongatapu; ‘Euakafa, Kapa, Kenutu, Mafana, Maninita, Nuku, Pangaimotu, Taula, ‘Umuna, ‘Uta Vava’u, Vaka’eitu (Vava’u Islands)
Tuamotu Archipelago: Ahe, Anaa, Aratika, Fakarava, Hao, Katiu, Makemo, Manihi, Mataiva, Niau, Nihiru, Pukapuka, Rangiroa, Raraka, Raroia, Takaroa, Takume, Tureia
Tuvalu: Funafuti
Wallis & Futuna: Futuna, ‘Uvea

local names:

moko – Aitutaki, Miti’aro, Pukapuka, Tongareva / Cook Islands
moko kakara – Ma’uke / Cook Islands
moko sari – Fiji
motukutuku – Mangaia / Cook Islands

***

This ‘species’ in fact isn’t a species in the common sense, it is most probably not monophyletic, that means the species’ name covers more than one species.

The Polynesian populations extend from Fiji into central Polynesia (Cook Islands, Society Islands) and east Polynesia (Tuamotu Archipelago). The western populations may be native, the central and eastern, however, were most probably imported by early Polynesian settlers.

There is still a lot to discover …. [1][2][3][4][5]

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References:

[1] Walter C. Brown: Lizards of the genus Emoia (Scincidae) with observations on their evolution and biogeography. California Academy of Sciences 1991
[2] B. J. Gill: The land reptiles of Western Samoa. Journal of the Royal Society of new Zealand 23(2): 79-89. 1993
[3] B. J. Gill: Notes on the land reptiles of Wallis and futuna, South-West pacific. Records of the Auckland Institute and Museum 32: 55-61.1995
[4] Emilio M. Bruna; Robert N. Fisher; Ted J. Case: Morphological and genetic evolution appear decoupled in Pacific skinks (Squamata: Scincidae: Emoia). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. B 263: 681-688. 1996
[5] Robert Fisher; Moeumu Uili; Czarina Lese; Fialelei Enoka: Reptiles of the Aleipata Islands: Surveys 2009–2010. In: Alan Tye, David J. Butler: Restoration of Nu’utele and Nu’ulua Islands (Aleipata Group), Samoa, through the management of introduced rats and ants. Conservation International Pacific Islands Program 2013

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emoia-cyanura-dpr

Photo: Dr. Paddy Ryan; by courtesy of Dr. Paddy Ryan

http://www.ryanphotographic.com

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edited: 01.01.2019

Emoia samoensis (Duméril)

Samoan Tree Skink (Emoia samoensis)

Distribution:

Samoa: Nu’utele, Savai’i, Ta’u, Tutuila, ‘Upolu

local names:

pili lape – Samoa

***

The Samoan Tree Skink was described in 1851, it is endemic to Samoa, where it occurs on all of the larger and certainly also all of the smaller islands.

The skink is about 25 cm long, it is mainly green colored and is marked with some dark brown spots of varying size.

The species primarily inhabits forested areas, where it is usually found on tree trunks and low vegetation at heights from near ground level to several meters above ground. [1][2][3]

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References:

[1] Walter C. Brown: Lizards of the genus Emoia (Scincidae) with observations on their evolution and biogeography. California Academy of Sciences 1991
[2] B. J. Gill: The land reptiles of Western Samoa. Journal of the Royal Society of new Zealand 23(2): 79-89. 1993
[3] Robert Fisher; Moeumu Uili; Czarina Iese; Fialelei Enoka: Reptiles of the Aleipata Islands: Surveys 2009–2010. In: Alan Tye, David J. Butler: Restoration of Nu’utele and Nu’ulua Islands (Aleipata Group), Samoa, through the management of introduced rats and ants. Conservation International Pacific Islands Program 2013

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emoia-samoensis-shashizume

Photo: S. Hashizume, 2008

http://jocv183199.web.fc2.com

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edited: 01.01.2019

Lepidodactylus gardineri Boulenger

Rotuman Forest Gecko (Lepidodactylus gardineri)

The Rotuman Forest Gecko was scientifically described in the year 1897.

As its name implies, this nocturnal gecko species occurs exclusively on the island of Rotuma, where it lives in termite galleries in dead tree branches and trunks.

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lepidodactylus-gardineri-dpr

Photo: Dr. Paddy Ryan; by courtesy of Dr. Paddy Ryan

http://www.ryanphotographic.com

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References:

[1] George R. Zug; Victor G. Springer; Jeffrey T. Williams; G. David Johnson: The Vertebrates of Rotuma and surrounding waters. Atoll Research Bulletin 316: 1-25. 1988

Emoia trossula Brown & Gibbons

Barred Tree Skink (Emoia trossula)

This about 25 cm long skink species is indigenous to the Fijian Islands. The population of Rarotonga / Cook Islands that formerly was assigned to this species, was only in 2011 recognized as a distinct species.

The Barred Tree Skink is mainly found in trees. [1]

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References:

[1] Walter C. Brown: Lizards of the genus Emoia (Scincidae) with observations on their evolution and biogeography. California Academy of Sciences, 1991

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emoia-trossula-dpr

Photo: Dr. Paddy Ryan; by courtesy of Dr. Paddy Ryan

http://www.ryanphotographic.com

Oligosoma acrinasum (Hardy)

Fiordland Skink (Oligosoma acrinasum)

The Fiordland Skink is endemic to the South Island of New Zealand, where it can be found at the Fiordland coast, and especially on smaller and smallest islands.

It is a coastal species that can be found on rocky shoreline platforms, where it hunts for small insects and other invertebrates.

The species is considered abundant in areas free from mammalian predators, especially Norway Rats (Rattus norvegicus (Berkenhout)), but is now nearly completely absent from areas with such mammalian predators.