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Fossil Lizards from the Late Quaternary of 'Eua, Tonga

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Title: Fossil Lizards from the Late Quaternary of 'Eua, Tonga
Authors: Pregill, Gregory K.
Issue Date: Apr 1993
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
Citation: Pregill GK. 1993. Fossil lizards from the Late Quaternary of 'Eua, Tonga. Pac Sci 47(2): 101-114.
Abstract: The lizard fauna of Polynesia consists mainly of skinks and geckos
that are believed to have reached many of the islands by way of human assistance
beginning with the early Polynesian voyagers. Documenting the natural versus
human-assisted origins of lizards in the Pacific would be greatly enhanced by a
fossil record, but that record for lizards has been limited to a few archaeological
and noncultural sites that postdate human arrival. This study reports fossil
remains of eight, possibly nine, species of lizards screened from cave sediments
on 'Eua, Tonga. One of these deposits is precultural, the deepest layers of which
were excavated from below a calcite lens dated at ca. 60,000 to 80,000 yr B.P.
Fossils from the precultural strata include a gecko referred to Perochirus sp., a
genus known today no nearer than Vanuatu; a skink representing either an
undescribed species of Emoia or Emoia trossula Brown & Gibbons; and remains
of the widespread Emoia cyanura (Lesson). A single bone of an unidentified
large (> 150mm snout-vent length) skink (cf. Emoia, Eugongylus) was recovered
from deposits of post-human arrival age, but no such large skinks are currently
known from the island. Additional cave sites yielded essentially contemporaneous
remains of species extant on 'Eua: Gehyra oceanica (Lesson), Lepidodactylus
cf. lugubris (Dumeril & Bibron), Nactus pelagicus (Girard), Cryptoblepharus
poecilopleurus (Wiegmann), and Lipinia noctua (Lesson). No fossil evidence was
found of the Crested Iguana, Brachylophus fasciatus (Brongniart), whose
presence on 'Eua never has been verified by specimens.
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 47, Number 2, 1993

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