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New species of skink from Angola has waited over 70 years to be described

03 / 04 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

Researchers have finally described a new species of skink from Angola, specimens of which have lurked on museum shelves for more than 70 years. Belgian herpetologist Raymond Laurent first suspected that he was dealing with a new species of skink back in the 1960s based on specimens collected from both Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). However, Laurent decided to let his Belgian colleague Gaston de Witte, who had been the first to study the more-numerous DRC specimens in the 1950s, take the lead on describing the skink. As it turns out, neither of them got around to doing it in their lifetime. Now, a team of researchers surveying amphibians and reptiles in Cangandala National Park (CNP) in Angola have formally described the long-tailed skink in a new study published in Zootaxa.  “It was a lucky find,” said Mariana P. Marques, a doctoral student at CIBIO (Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources), University of Porto, Portugal, and lead author of the study. “We were doing some active search for amphibians and reptiles in CNP for our inventory and we saw the specimen basking under a shrub. As soon as we got it, we suspected immediately that was a new species especially due to the well-marked neck and its long tail.” Laurent’s long tailed skink. Image by Luis Ceríaco. Marques and her colleagues also used Laurent and de Witte’s published works to locate some of the older specimens, now placed in the collections of the Dundo Museum in Angola, the Royal…

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