Systematics of the Genus Trachylepis Fitzinger, 1843 (Sauria: Scincidae) in Iran: A review

Document Type : Review Articles


1 Razi University

2 Hakim Sabzevari University


There are several papers related to the split of the Mabuya group (sensu lato) into four different subfamilies (Chinoniniinae, Mabuyinae, Dasiinae, Trachylepidinae). The Iranian species of Mabuya and totally the Middle East species of this old genus come under Afro-Malagasy clade. Also septemtaeniata and transcaucasica are more related to Euprepis branch in Afro-Malagasy clade. Further, transcaucasica should be treated as a subspecies of Euprepis and with septemtaeniata as a good species (Mausfeld and Schmitz, 2003). The Turkish species of Mabuya not only belong to any of the four aforementioned genera (Durmuş et al., 2011), but also diversified from Mabuya and the rest Trachylepis species (Güçlü et al., 2014). The Mabuya Afro-Malagasy and Cape Verdian group morphologically shows an intermediate position between the Asian and the South American groups. Assuming an Asian origin of the genus “Mabuya” (Horton 1973; Greer 1977) (Quoted from Faizi and Rastegar-Pouyani, 2006).
According to Moravec et al. (2006) there is no record of T.aurata from Iran, but Turkish populations belong to T.aurata. The Populations from central and northern Iran belong to T. s. transcaucasiaca (Čhernov, 1926) and southern populations belonging to Trachylepis septemtaeniata (Reuss, 1834). According to Morphological and molecular data, the Turkish T.vittata, T.aurata, T. septemtaeniata are separate species and T. vittata is branched off first. Based on morphological characters the Iranian T.vittata is a distinct species. The aim of this study is to provide a detailed account on current taxonomic and distributional status of the genus Trachylepis with special reference to the Iranian Plateau species. A new and updated taxonomic, biogeographic and phylogenetic status of the Iranian species of Trachylepis, based on morphological and molecular data, is at hand by the authors


Achmedov, S.B., and Ščerbak., N.N. 1987. Geographic variation and intraspecific systematic of
Mabuya aurata (Sauria Scincidae). Vestnik Zoologii, 5, 20-24(In Russian).
Aldrovandi, U. 1637. De qvadrvpedib’ digitatis viviparis libri tres, et De qvadrvpedib’ digitatis oviparis libri duo. Bartholomaevs Ambrosinus. Bonon. N. Tebaldinum.
Andersson, J. 1900. Catalogue of Linnean type-specimens of Linnaeus’s Reptilia in the Royal Museum in Stockholm. Bih. Kongl. Svenska Vetenskaps-Akad. Handl. 26, 1-29.
Anderson, S. C. 1999. The Lizards of Iran. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Contributions to Herpetology, Ithaca, New York.
Ananjeva, N. B., Orlov, N.L., Khalikov, R.G., Darevsky, I.S., Ryabov, S.A., and Barabanov, A V. 2006. The Reptiles of Northern Eurasia: Taxonomic Diversity, Distribution, Conservation Status, Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Saint-Petersburg.
Arnold, E.N. 1986a. Mite pockets of Lizards, a possible means of reducing damage by ectoparasites, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 29, 1-21
Arnold, E.N. 1986d. A key and annotated check list to the lizards and Amphisbaenians of Arabia. Fauna of Saudi Arabia 8, 385-435.
Başoğlu, M., and Baran, I. 1977. Kism L Lamplumbaga ve kertenkeleler [part 1 the Turtles and lizards]. Turkiye Surungenleri [The Reptiles of Turky]. IIker Matbaasi, Bomovaizmir, 272 pp. (In Turkish with English summary, pp.191-233, 235-236).
Baran, I. Atatur, M.K. 1998. Turkish Herpatofauna(Amphibians and Reptailes), Ankara, Turkey, Ministry of Environment. XIII (unnumbered), 214 pp
Bauer, A. 2003. On the identity of Lacerta punctata Linnaeus 1758, the type species of the genus Euprepis Wagler 1830, and the generic assignment of Afro-Malagasy skinks. African Journal of Herpetology 52, 1–7.
Brandley, M.C., Wang, Y., Guo, X.,. Nieto, Montes, A., Feria, M., Hikida, T., and Ota, H. 2011. Accommodating locus-specific heterogeneity in molecular dating methods: an example using inter-continental dispersal of Plestiodon (Eumeces) lizards. Systematic Biology 60, 3-15.
Carranza. S., and Arnold, E.N. 2003. Investigating the origin of transoceanic distributions: mtDNA shows Mabuya lizards (Reptilia, Scincidae) crossed the Atlantic twice. Systematics and Biodiversity 1, 275-282.
Disi, M.A., Modry, D., Necas, P., and Rifai, L. 2000. Amphibians and reptailes of the Hashemaite Kingdom of Jordan an Atlas and Field Guide, edition chimiara, Frankfurt am Main, pp. 225-226.
Durmuş, S. H., Kumlutaş, Y., Özdemır, A,. Avcı, A., and ılgaz, Ç.2011 Morphology, taxonomic status and distribution of Trachylepis aurata (Lınneaus, 1758) in southeast Anatolia (Squamata: Sauria: Scincidae), Herpetozoa 24, 61 – 71.
Faizi, H., and Rastegar-Pouyani, N. 2006. Intra- and-inter-specific geographic variation in the Iranian Scincid lizards of the genus Trachylepis Fitzinger 1843 (Sauria: Scincidae), Iranian Journal of Animal Biosystematics (IJAB) 2, 1-11.
Faizi, H., Rastegar-Pouyani, N., Rajabizadeh, M., Heydari, N. 2010. Sexual dimorphism in Trachylepis aurata transcaucasica Chernov, 1926 (Reptilia: Scincidae) in the Zagros Mountains, western Iran, Iranian Journal of Animal Biosystematics (IJAB) 6, 25–35.
Fattahi, R., Ficetola, G. F., Rastegar-Pouyani, N., Avcı, A., Kumlutaş, Y., Ilgaz, C., and Hosseinian, S. 2014. Modelling the potential distribution of the Bridled Skink, Trachylepis vittata (Olivier, 1804), in the Middle East, Zoology in the Middle East 60, 1-9.
Fattahi, R., Rastegar-Pouyani, N., and Abbasi, H. 2014. Notes Taxonomy, Distribution, Geographic Variation and Natural History in Trachylepis vittata (Olivier, 1804) in the Zagros Mountains, Western Iran. Russ. J. Herpetol. 21, 179-186.
Gamble, T., Bauer, A. M., Greenbaum E., and Jackman, T.R. 2008. Evidence for Gondwanan vicariance in an ancient clade of gecko lizards. Journal of Biogeography 35, 88–104.
Giovannotti, M., Caputo, V., O’Brien, P.C.M., Lovell, F.L., Trifonov, V., Nisi Cerioni, P., and Olmo, E .M.A. 2009. Skinks (Reptilia: Scincidae) Have Highly Conserved Karyotypes as Revealed by Chromosome Painting. Cytogenet Genome Res 127, 2-4.
Greer, A.E. 1970. A subfamilial classification of scincid lizards. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 139, 151–184.
Greer, A. E. 1977. The systematics and evolutionary relationships of the scincid lizard genus Lygosoma. J. Nat. Hist 11, 515–540
Gronovius, L.T. 1754. Museum Ichthyologicum, sistens piscium indigenorum and quarumdam exoticorum, qui in museo Laurentii Theodori Gronovii adservantur, descriptiones systematico. Leiden, Haak.
Güçlü, Ö., Candan, K., Kankilic, T., Kumluta, Y., Durmus, S.H., Nikos Poulakakis, N., and Ilgaz, C. 2014. Phylogeny of Trachylepis sp. (Reptilia) from Turkey inferred from Turkey inferred from mtDNA sequences, Mitochondrial DNA 25, 456–463.
Hedges, S.B., and Conn, C.E. 2012. A new skink fauna from Caribbean islands (Squamata, Mabuyidae, Mabuyinae). Zootaxa, 3288, 1–244.
Hedges, S. B. 2014. The high-level classification of skinks (Reptilia, Squamata, Scincomorpha), Zootaxa 3765, 317–338.
Horton, D. R.1973. Evolution in the genus Mabuya (Lacertilia, Scincidae), Unpubl, PhD-Thesis,
Armidale, University of New England, Australia.
Jesus, J., Brehm, A., Harris, D.J. 2005. Relationships of scincid lizards (Mabuya spp.) from the islands of the Gulf of Guinea based on mtDNA sequence data. Amphibia–Reptilia 26, 467–73.
Khalaf, K.T. 1959. Reptiles of Iraq with some notes on the amphibians, published by Grant from the Ministry Education of Iraq, Baghdad.
Leviton, A. E., Anderson, S. C., Adler, K. and Minton, S. A. 1992. Handbook to Middle East Amphibians and Reptiles. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Oxford, Ohio, USA.
Linnaeus, C. 1749. Amoenitates Academicae, seu Dissertationes varie physicae, medicae, botanicae antehac seorsim editae nunc collectae et auctae, cum tabulis aeneis, Holmiae et Lipsiae.
Linnaeus, C. 1754. Museum S:ae R:ae M:tis. Adolphi Friderici Regis Svecorum, Gothorum, Vandalorumquae. Haer. Norv. Duc. Slesv. Hols. Storm. Ditm. Com. Oldenb. Delmenhorstiae. In quo animalia rariora imprimis et exotica: Quadrupedia, Aves, Amphibia, Pisces, Insecta, Vermes describuntur et determinatur, Latine et Suetice cum. iconibus. Holmiae, Typ. Regia, Stockholm.
Marine, S.A., Felix, D.D., Claudia, C., Sindaco, R., and Leviton, A.E. 2011. Herpatofauna of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,, Salt Lake City, U.S.A.
Mausfeld, P.A.S., Bohme, W., Misof, B.D.V., and Rocha, C.F.D. 2002. Phylogenetic affinities of Mabuya atlantica Schmtidt, 1945, endemic to the Atlantic Ocean archipelago of Fernando de Noronha (Brazil): necessity of partitioning the Genus Mabuya Fitzinger, 1826 (Scincidae: Lygosominae). Zoologischer Anzeiger 241, 281–293.
Mausfeld, P., and Schmitz, A. 2003. Molecular phylogeography, intraspecific variation and speciation of the Asian scincid lizard genus Eutropis Fitzinger, 1843 (Squamata : Reptilia : Scincidae): taxonomic and biogeographic implications. Organisms Diversity & Evolution 3, 161–171.
Moravec, J., Franzen, M., and Böhme, W. 2006. Notes on the taxonomy, nomenclature and distribution of the Trachylepis (formerly Mabuya) aurata (Linnaeus, 1758) complex, Herpetologia Bonnensis II. Proceedings of the 13th Congress of the Societas Europaea Herpetologica, 89-93
Pyron, R.A., Burbrink F.T. and Wiens J.J. 2013. A phylogeny and revised classification of Squamata, including 4161 species of lizards and snakes. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 13- 93.
Rastegar-Pouyani, N., Johari, M. and Parsa, H. 2006. Field Guide to the Reptiles of Iran. Volume 1: Lizards. First edition. Iran, Razi University Publishing. (In Persian).
Rastegar-Pouyani, N., Johari, M. and Rastegar-Pouyani E. 2007. Field Guide to the Reptiles of Iran. Volume 1: Lizards. 2nd Ed., Iran, Razi University Publishing. (In Persian).
Rastegar-Pouyani, N., Kami H. G., Rajabzadeh, M., Shafiei, S. and Anderson, S. C. 2008. Annotated checklist of amphibians and reptiles of Iran. Iranian Journal of Animal Biosystematics (IJAB) 4, 7 – 30.
Seba, A. 1734. Locuoletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurate descriptio, et iconibus artifi ciosissimis expressio, per universam physices historiam. Opus, cui, in hoc rerum genere, mullum par extitit. Ex toto terrarum orbe collegit, digessit, descripsit, et depingendum curavit Albertus Seba, Etzela Oostfrisius, Academiae Caesareae Leopoldino Carolinae Naturae Curiosorum Collega Xenocrates dictus; Societatis Regiae Anglicanae, et Instituti Bononiensis, sodalis. Tomus I. J. Wetstenium, and Gul. Smith and Janssonio-Waesbergios, Amstelaedami.
Sindaco, R., Metallinou M., Pupin F., Fasola M., and Carranza S. 2012. Forgotten in the ocean: systematics, biogeography and evolution of the Trachylepis skinks of the Socotra Archipelago. Zoologica Scripta 41, 346–362.
Skinner, A., Hugall, A.F., and Hutchinson, M.N. 2011. Lygosomine phylogeny and the origins of Australian scincid lizards. Journal of Biogeography 38, 1365-2699.
Townsend, T.M., Mulcahy, D.G., Noonan, B.P., Sites, J.W., Kuczynski, C.A., Wiens, J.J., and Reeder, T.W. 2011. Phylogeny of iguanian lizards inferred from 29 nuclear loci, and a comparison of concatenated and species-tree approaches for an ancient, rapid radiation. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 61, 363–380.
Uetz P. and Hošek, J. 2014. The Reptile Database,, (accessed 1 January 2014).
Vidal, N., and Hedges, S.B. 2005. The phylogeny of squamate reptiles (lizards, snakes, and amphisbaenians) inferred from nine nuclear protein-coding genes. Comptes Rendus Biologies 328, 1000–1008.
Whiting, A.S., Bauer, A.M., and Sites, J.W. 2003. Phylogenetic relationships and limb loss in sub-Saharan African scincine lizards (Squamata: Scincidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 26, 582–598.
Whiting, A.S., Sites, J.W., and Bauer, A.M. 2004. Molecular phylogenetics of Malagasy skinks (Squamata: Scincidae). African Journal of Herpetology 53, 135–146.