A New Genus and Species of Live-Bearing Scincid Lizard (Reptilia: Scincidae) from New Caledonia
A new genus and species of lizard is described from far northern New Caledonia and the Îles Belep, to the north of the New Caledonian mainland. In overall appearance and biology, it is most similar to the forest-dwelling species of the endemic New Caledonian genus Marmorosphax and shares with those skinks a live-bearing mode of reproduction. However, the new species is highly divergent in its scalation and includes a combination of character states not seen in any other New Caledonian species. The new species has been recorded mainly from dry forest habitats in the far north of the region, including dry closed forest on the Îles Belep, dry riverine forest adjacent to the Rivière Néhoué, and dry closed forest on Dome de Tiébaghi. The forests in which this new species is found are now present as relictual patches as a result of historical factors or more recent anthropogenic impacts. The taxonomic uniqueness of this species, in combination with its restricted distribution and threats to its preferred habitat, make it a high priority for conservation management.