Revision of the montane New Guinean skink genus Lobulia (Squamata: Scincidae), with the description of four new genera and nine new species

Alex Slavenko*, Karin Tamar, Oliver J.S. Tallowin, Fred Kraus, Allen Allison, Salvador Carranza, Shai Meiri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The skink genus Lobulia is endemic to New Guinea, the largest and highest tropical island in the world. Lobulia and its related genera represent an important component of the montane herpetofauna of New Guinea, but it remains understudied and poorly known. We here provide the first, large-scale, systematic revision of Lobulia, using molecular phylogenetic and morphological comparisons to assess the monophyly of the genus and the diversity of species within it. We find that Lobulia, as currently defined, is polyphyletic. The eight species currently assigned to it form three clades. Furthermore, many specimens from New Guinea of unknown specific affinity are genetically and morphologically distinct from each other. Based on these data, we re-diagnose Lobulia and two of its closely related genera, Prasinohaema and Papuascincus. We erect four new genera (Alpinoscincus gen. nov., Nubeoscincus gen. nov., Ornithuroscincus gen. nov. and Palaia gen. nov.) to address the problem of polyphyly and describe nine new species Lobulia fortis sp. nov., Lobulia huonensis sp. nov., Loublia marmorata sp. nov., Lobulia vogelkopensis sp. nov., Ornithuroscincus bengaun sp. nov., Ornithuroscincus inornatus sp. nov., Ornithuroscincus pterophilus sp. nov., Ornithuroscincus shearmani sp. nov. and Ornithuroscincus viridis sp. nov. We supplement this taxonomic revision by investigating the biogeographic history of Lobulia s.l. and find evidence for a large radiation in the accreted terranes of New Guinea, with multiple independent colonizations of montane habitats and subsequent recolonization of lowland habitats. Our study reinforces the uniqueness and richness of the montane herpetofauna of New Guinea and the importance of mountains to biodiversity in the Tropics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-278
Number of pages59
JournalZoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 May 2022


  • Pacific Islands
  • biogeography
  • genus revision
  • reptilian


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