Boulenger's speckled skink
Length: SVL up to 80mm, with the tail being equal to or longer than the body length
A mysterious species that was for a long time considered to be synonymous with Newman’s speckled skink (Oligosoma newmani), but has recently been morphologically distinguished from related species in the speckled skink group. Most similar to the Hokitika skink (O. aff. infrapunctatum “Hokitika”), but differs substantially in aspects of morphology / scale counts.
Similar in appearance to other members of the speckled skink complex. Dorsal surface is brown, and heavily flecked with black. Pale dorsolateral stripe extends from head to tail and is bordered above and below by dark bands. Lower dark band is bordered below by another pale stripe, below which another dark band breaks up into the ventral colouration. Throat is grey, ventral surface is pale and speckled with dark flecks which are arranged in rows.
No extant populations of Boulenger’s speckled skink are currently known, or the location where the original specimen was collected.
Ecology and habitat
Unknown, but probably insectivorous and frugivorous like other species of New Zealand skink (Oligosoma spp.).
It’s possible that Boulenger’s speckled skink is a threatened species awaiting rediscovery, or may already be extinct.
For a long time the Oligosoma infrapunctatum type specimen (holotype) was considered synonymous with Newman’s speckled skink (O. newmani). Melzer et al. 2019 demonstrated that the holotype for O. infrapunctatum could be morphologically distinguished from other extant ‘speckled skinks’, and represented a separate species which has not been found for over 100 years, and may be extinct.
Similar to the currently undescribed and poorly-known Hokitika skink (Oligosoma aff. infrapunctatum “Hokitika”), but differs significantly in scale counts. Additional specimens of the Hokitika skink may bridge the morphological gap with the O. infrapunctatum specimen.
Hitchmough, R., Barr, B., Knox, C., Lettink, M., Monks, J. M., Patterson, G. B., Reardon, J. T., van Winkel, D., Rolfe, J., & Michel, P. (2021). Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, 2021. New Zealand threat classification series 35. Wellington: New Zealand Department of Conversation.
Melzer, S., Hitchmough, R. H., Bell, T., Chapple, D. G., Patterson, G. B. (2019). Lost and Found: Taxonomic revision of the speckled skink (Oligosoma infrapunctatum; Reptilia; Scincidae) species complex from New Zealand reveals a potential cryptic extinction, resurrection of two species, and description of three new species. Zootaxa, 4623 (3), 441–484.
van Winkel, D., Baling, M. & Hitchmough, R. (2018). Reptiles and Amphibians of New Zealand: A field guide. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 376 pp.