Mauritian giant skink

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Leiolopisma mauritiana
Didosaurus.jpg
Fossils

Extinct  (c. 1600) (IUCN 2.3)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Scincidae
Genus: Leiolopisma
Species: L. mauritiana
Binomial name
Leiolopisma mauritiana
(Günther, 1877)
Synonyms

Didosaurus mauritianus

Leiolopisma mauritiana also known as Didosaurus maurtianus, was a large (the largest known) species of skink (family Scincidae). It was found only in Mauritius, but became extinct around 1600 probably due to introduced predators.

Reconstruction of the species, on Ile aux Aigrettes, Mauritius

It may have been somewhat fossorial in nature. This is speculative and based on a reconstruction. The Mauritian giant skink, became extinct by 1650. Only a semi - complete specimen is known in addition to some odd bones. (Supposedly, a former director of the Mauritian Institute threw away specimens including some bones of this species). The remaining skeleton is missing the feet and digits, thus making it impossible for a SENI biometric analysis per se (Schnirel. 2004). The semi - complete skeleton does have a skull shaped similar to a blue-tongue skink (Genus: Tiliqua). The restoration undertaken by the (Species in Bronze Project), if accurate, gives a SENI value of .06 which would indicate that this species could have been fossorial or saxicolous in lifestyle. This is further linked by the fact that the closest living relative of this species (as mentioned by the restorers) is the Round Island skink: Leiolopisma telfeirii. The Round Island skink also gives a SENI value of .06. The Round Island skink is a species capable of caudal autotomy. This skink is often seen darting in the underbrush or between rocks.

An undescribed extinct Leiolopisma from Réunion was closely related, whereas the Round Island skink is a more distantly related surviving species from Mauritius. (Austin & Arnold 2006)

References[edit]

  • Austin, J.J. & Arnold, E.N. (2006): Using ancient and recent DNA to explore relationships of extinct and endangered Leiolopisma skinks (Reptilia: Scincidae) in the Mascarene islands. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39(2): 503–511. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.12.011 (HTML abstract)
  • Concerning the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (1996). "Leiolopisma mauritiana". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2006. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 10 Jul 2007.  Database entry includes justification for why this species is extinct.
  • Schnirel, Brian L.; (2004). Seni biometric analysis on the extinct Scincidae species: Macroscincus coctei. Polyphemos, Volume 2, Issue 1, May, Florence, South Carolina, U.S.A. pp. 12–22.


External links[edit]