Morethia adelaidensis

article - Morethia adelaidensis

The saltbush Morethia skink (Morethia adelaidensis), or more commonly referred to as saltbush skink, is a species of skink found in Australia.[2] They are part of an 8 species genus of Morethia, which are all endemic to Australia. Akin to other members of the Morethia genus, saltbush skinks feature transparent disks as eye covers and eyelids which are stationary, along with specialised limbs which enable quick traversal of sand dunes.[3] Taxonomically, the species was first classified by German explorer Wilhelm Karl Hartwig in 1871.[3]

Species of lizard

Morethia adelaidensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Scincidae
Genus: Morethia
M. adelaidensis
Binomial name
Morethia adelaidensis

(Peters, 1874)

. . . Morethia adelaidensis . . .

Recorded habitat range spans from Lake Eyre Basin, extending into coastal regions of Nullarbour, arid regions of Western Australia and the northern corner border of NSW, Australia. Saltbush Morethia skinks have a preference for arid shrublands, which make up their primary habitat zones.[3] In reference to the species name, Its spatial distribution is primarily linked to the presence of Saltbush chenopod shrubs in these habitat zones. Their distribution is generally shared with other species in the Morethia genus such as Morethia boulengeri, which also have a preference for this habitat type.[3]

Higher abundances are generally observed in areas with observable grass cover, such as temperate native grasslands in South Australia.[4] While non-grassland habitat contains more infrequent populations. Saltbush skinks additionally occupy river gorges and rocky granite outcrops, however their widespread arid distribution does not limit them to these zones.[5]

Saltbush skinks are small sized skinks, with adult males averaging 5 cm in size based on snout-vent length, with grey, or olive grey complexions.[3] Two primary black bands stretch dorsally and laterally, extending down to the tail. The upper black band is darker, with significant speckled markings.[3] Directly below black bands is a singular interrupted, irregular white band which extends through the ear and above each forelimb.

Saltbush skink, pictured with fire-tail markings covering ventral edges

Species examined in Lake Eyre are found to feature paler markings, with lateral black lines less visible compared to species found elsewhere. However, most species exhibit darker markings. Saltbush Morethia skinks feature visibly separated nasal superiors, or supranasals. While its eyes are surrounded by granule-like scale clusters.[3]

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