Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer
Published: 2019-06-04

A new species of Lerista Bell, 1833 (Reptilia: Scincidae) from Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, belonging to the Lerista allanae clade but strongly disjunct from other members of the clade

Biodiversity, Queensland Museum, PO Box 3300, South Brisbane 4101, Australia.
Reptilia Slider skink Cape York Peninsula Australia Olkola country monsoonal tropical savanna


A species of the skink genus Lerista is described from Cape York Peninsula in Queensland.  The species is biogeographically interesting as it appears to be separated by at least 500 km from its nearest relatives, members of the Lerista allanae clade.  The role of Pleistocene sea level changes altering availability of suitable habitat for these sand specialists is discussed as a possible driver of isolation and speciation.



  1. Amey, A.P. & Couper, P.J. (2009) A new limb-reduced skink (Scincidae: Lerista) from the dry rainforest of north Queensland, Australia. Zootaxa, 2173, 19–30.

    Amey, A.P., Couper, P.J. & Worthington Wilmer, J. (2019) Two new species of Lerista Bell, 1833 (Reptilia: Scincidae) from north Queensland populations formerly assigned to Lerista storri Greer, McDonald and Lawrie, 1983. Zootaxa, 4577 (3), 473–493.

    Amey, A.P., Couper, P.J., Worthington Wilmer, J., Ferguson, D. & Borsboom, A.C. (2018a) A two-toed population of the critically endangered Retro Slider Skink, Lerista allanae (Longman, 1937) (Reptilia: Scincidae). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum—Nature, 61, 71–81.

    Amey, A.P. & Edwards, D.L. (2017) Taxonomy of the sand sliders of Western Australia’s central coast (genus Lerista, Squamata: Scincidae): recognition of Lerista miopus (Günther, 1867). Zootaxa, 4317 (1), 111–133.

    Amey, A.P. & Worthington Wilmer, J. (2014) Morphological diversity and genetic structure within Lerista kalumburu Storr, 1976 (Squamata: Scincomorpha: Sphenomorphidae)—taxonomic implications. Zootaxa, 3821 (2), 239–252.

    Amey, A.P., Worthington Wilmer, J., Blomberg, S.P. & Couper, P.J. (2018b) Range extension and genetic structure of the narrowly-restricted skink, Lerista rochfordensis Amey and Couper, 2009 (Reptilia; Scincidae). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum—Nature, 61, 29–41.

    Bell, T. (1833) Characters of two new genera of reptiles. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1, 98–99.

    Boulenger, G.A. (1887) Catalogue of the Lizards in the British Museum (Natural History). Vol. III. Lacertidae, Gerrhosauridae, Scincidae, Anelyptropidae, Dibamidae, Chamaeleontidae. Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History), London, 575 pp.

    Carter, R.M. & Johnson, D.P. (1986) Sea-level controls on the postglacial development of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Marine Geology, 71, 137–164.

    Couper, P.J., Amey, A.P. & Worthington Wilmer, J. (2016) Cryptic diversity within the narrowly endemic Lerista wilkinsi group of north Queensland—two new species (Reptilia: Scincidae). Zootaxa, 4162 (1), 61–91.

    Couper, P.J. & Ingram, G.J. (1992) A new species of skink of Lerista from Queensland and a re-appraisal of L. allanae (Longman). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 32, 55–59.

    Drummond, A.J., Suchard, M.A., Xie, D. & Rambaut, A. (2012) Bayesian phylogenetics with BEAUti and the BEAST 1.7. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 29, 1969–1973.

    Edwards, D., Keogh, J.S. & Knowles, L.L. (2012) Effects of vicariant barriers, habitat stability, population isolation and environmental features on species divergence in the south-western Australian coastal reptile community. Molecular Ecology, 21, 3809–3822.

    Ford, F. & Blair, D. (2005) Neat patterns with a messy history: Savannah refuges in northern Australia. Mammal Study, 30, S45–S50.;2

    Greer, A.E. (1983) A new species of Lerista from Groote Eylandt and the Sir Edward Pellew Group in northern Australia. Journal of Herpetology, 17, 48–53.

    Greer, A.E. (1989) The Biology and Evolution of Australian Lizards. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Sydney, 264 pp.

    Greer, A.E., McDonald, K.R. & Lawrie, B.C. (1983) Three new species of Lerista (Scincidae) from northern Queensland with a diagnosis of the wilkinsi species group. Journal of Herpetology, 17, 247–255.

    He, Q., Edwards, D.L. & Knowles, L.L. (2013) Integrative testing of how environments from the past to the present shape genetic structure across landscapes. Evolution, 67, 3386–3402.

    IUCN (2012) IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Version 3.1. 2nd Edition. IUCN. Gland, and Cambridge, 32 pp.

    Lee, M.S.Y., Skinner, A. & Camacho, A. (2013) The relationship between limb reduction, body elongation and geographical range in lizards (Lerista, Scincidae). Journal of Biogeography, 40, 1290–1297.

    Lillywhite, H.B. (2008) Dictionary of Herpetology. Krieger Publishing Co., Malabar, Florida, 376 pp.

    Longman, H.A. (1937) Herpetological notes. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 11, 165–168.

    MacArthur, R.H. & Wilson, E.O. (1967) The Theory of Island Biogeography. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 203 pp.

    Marx, H. & Hosmer, W. (1959) A new skink from Australia. Copeia, 1959, 207–208.

    Miller, M.A., Pfeiffer, W. & Schwartz, T. (2010) Creating the CIPRES Science Gateway for inference of large phylogenetic trees. Proceedings of the Gateway Computing Environments Workshop (GCE), New Orleans, 2010, 1–8.

    Mitchell, F.J. (1955) Preliminary account of the Reptilia and Amphibia collected by the National Geographic Society - Commonwealth Government—Smithsonian Institution Expedition to Arnhem Land (April to November, 1948). Records of the South Australian Museum, 11, 373–408.

    Posada, D. & Crandall, K.A. (1998) Modeltest: Testing the model of DNA substitution. Bioinformatics, 14, 817–818.

    Queensland Government Environment and Science (2018) Regional ecosystems descriptions.

    Available from: (accessed 27 April 2018)

    Ronquist, F., Teslenko, M., Van Der Mark, P., Ayres, D.L., Darling, A., Hohna, S., Larget, B.L., Suchard, M.A. & Huelsenbeck, J.P. (2012) MRBAYES 3.2: Efficient Bayesian phylogenetic inference and model selection across a large model space. Systematic Biology, 61, 539–542.

    Skinner, A. (2010) Rate heterogeneity, ancestral character state reconstruction and the evolution of limb morphology in Lerista (Scincidae, Squamata). Systematic Biology, 59, 723–740.

    Skinner, A., Lee, M.S.Y. & Hutchinson, M.N. (2008) Rapid and repeated limb loss in a clade of scincid lizards. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 8, 310.

    Stamatakis, A. (2014) RAxML Version 8: A tool for phylogenetic analysis and post-analysis of large phylogenies. Bioinformatics, 30, 1312–1313.

    Storr, G.M. (1971) The genus Lerista (Lacertilia: Scincidae) in Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia, 54, 59–75.

    Storr, G.M. (1991) Revision of Lerista orientalis (Lacertilia: Scincidae) of northern Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, 15, 413–417.

    Storr, G.M., Smith, L.A. & Johnstone, R.E. (1999) Lizards of Western Australia. I Skinks. 2nd Edition. Western Australian Museum, Perth, 291 pp.

    Wells, R.W. (2012) Some taxonomic and nomenclatural considerations on the class Reptilia in Australia. A reclassification of the genus Lerista (Scincidae), including the descriptions of new genera. Australian Biodiversity Record, 2012, 1–361.

    Wilson, S.K. & Knowles, D.G. (1988) Australia’s Reptiles. A Photographic Reference to the Terrestrial Reptiles of Australia. Collins Publishers Australia, Sydney, 447 pp.

    Yokoyama, Y., Purcell, A., Lambeck, K. & Johnston, P. (2001) Shore-line reconstruction around Australia during the Last Glacial Maximum and Late Glacial Stage. Quaternary International, 83, 9–18.