Sunday, November 19, 2017

[Herpetology • 2017] Dibamus floweri • A New Species of Dibamus Duméril & Bibron 1839 (Squamata: Dibamidae) from A Hill Station in Peninsular Malaysia


 Dibamus floweri 
 Quah, Anuar, Grismer & Grassby-Lewis, 2017


 RAFFLES BULLETIN OF ZOOLOGY. 65.

Abstract 
A new species of worm-like lizard, Dibamus floweri, is described from Fraser’s Hill, Pahang, in the central highlands of Peninsular Malaysia based on the following unique combination of characters: maximum SVL of 112 mm; tail length 11.4–15.2% of SVL; labial and nasal sutures absent; rostral suture present but incomplete; a single postocular; four scales bordering the posterior edge of first infralabial; no enlarged, medial, sublabial scale; 21 scale rows around midbody; 23 scale rows around the body immediately posterior to head; 21 scale rows around the body immediately anterior to vent; 175–194 ventral scales; 23–46 subcaudal scales and light coloured bands on body. Dibamus floweri, new species, is the third species of dibamid discovered in Peninsular Malaysia and is the first montane species. Its discovery underscores the importance of uplands regions as important habitats for herpetological diversity and their understudied nature. 

Key words: herpetofauna, montane, new species, taxonomy, conservation, systematics



SYSTEMATICS
Dibamidae Boulenger, 1884
Dibamus Duméril & Bibron, 1839

Dibamus floweri, new species
Flower’s blind lizard

Diagnosis. Dibamus floweri, new species, differentiated from all other congeners by this combination of characters: maximum SVL of 112 mm; tail length 11.4–15.2% of SVL; labial, nasal sutures absent; rostral suture present but incomplete; single postocular; four scales bordering posterior edge of first infralabial; no enlarged, medial, sublabial scale; 21 midbody scale rows; 23 transverse scale rows just posterior to head; 21 transverse scale rows just anterior to vent; 175–194 ventral scales; 23–46 subcaudal scales; relative size of frontal to frontanasal 1.1–1.5; relative size of interparietal to surrounding scales 1.3–1.8; and light coloured bands on the body. These characters are scored across all nominal species of Dibamus in Table 2.

Etymology: The specific epithet, floweri, is in honour of Major Stanley Smyth Flower, who was one of the pioneers for herpetological discoveries in the Malay Peninsula. He made many notable discoveries over the course of his explorations in the region and his natural history observations well over a century ago were very detailed and contributed tremendously to improving our understanding of the ecology and behaviour of many species to this day.

 Distribution: Dibamus floweri, new species, is presently known only from Fraser’s Hill, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia at elevations between 1,207 and 1,500 m (Fig. 3). 

  (A) Holotype of Dibamus floweri, new species (LSUHC 12481) from Fraser’s Hill, Pahang (Photograph by Rupert Grassby-Lewis).
(B) Paratype of Dibamus floweri, new species (ZRC 2.7240) from Fraser’s Hill, Pahang at ease. Photographs by Evan Quah.
(F) Leaf litter microhabitat at Fraser’s Hill, Pahang where the paratype of Dibamus floweri, new species, was found.

Natural history: Both specimens were found while digging through leaf litter that had accumulated along the banks of roads. The holotype was discovered at night in a drainage ditch along Jalan Girdle in a damp and shaded area. The paratype was uncovered during the day underneath approximately 3 cm beneath the soil (Fig. 2F), and in the same pile of leaf-litter, the skink, Larutia miodactyla (Boulenger, 1903) was also found. When handled, both specimens flared up their body scales, giving them a wrinkled appearance (Fig. 1C). This behaviour is interpreted as a defensive, anti-predator mechanism employed by Dibamus to mimic a possible non-palatable species of worm (Darevsky, 1992). The other two Peninsular Malaysian species, D. booliati and D. tiomanensis display the same behaviour when agitated (Das & Yaakob, 2003; Diaz et al., 2004; Grismer, 2011).



Evan S. H. Quah, Shahrul Anuar M. S., L. Lee Grismer and Rupert Grassby-Lewis. 2017. 
A New Species of Dibamus Duméril & Bibron 1839 (Squamata: Dibamidae) from A Hill Station in Peninsular Malaysia. RAFFLES BULLETIN OF ZOOLOGY. 65; 681–690. 


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