Abstract

Abstract:

A new genus and species of skink, Kuniesaurus albiauris, is here described from the Île des Pins off southern New Caledonia. This new taxon possesses a unique suite of morphological apomorphies (scalation) that does not allow it to be placed in any existing Australasian eugongylid genus. It is known only from a single area in dense coastal forest on limestone, on the main island of the Île des Pins. The species area of occupancy is restricted, and the habitat occupied under threat from the spread of the highly invasive Little Red Fire Ant Wasmannia auropunctata. These factors place this new skink at a level of risk sufficient for it to be listed as Critically Endangered under IUCN Red List criteria. The affinities of the lizard fauna of the Île des Pins with respect to that present on southern New Caledonia are also discussed, most notably the absence from the Île des Pins of taxa typically restricted to ultramafic surfaces.

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