Added 19 February 2003. Last updated 30 March 2005: updated details for P. palawanensis and updated Bibliography.

The Scincidae


The genus Parvoscincus is a bitypic genus from the Philippines, raised recently by Ferner, Brown and Greer (see Bibliography), whose account forms the basis of this page. Both species live in the litter on the floor of closed canopy forests on separate islands. Although unlikely to be found together, the species can be distinguished by the prefrontal scales, which are absent in P. palawanensis but present in P. sisoni. Five species of Philippine skink (Lipinia species) also lack external ear openings but have fused frontoparietals instead of the distinct frontoparietals of Parvoscincus.

The genus can be summarised as follows: supranasals absent; prefrontals (if present) moderately to widely separated; 9 supraciliaries; upper half of lower eyelid formed by 1 row of deep scales; subocular row complete; 6 supralabials, of which the 4th forms the subocular; external ear opening absent.

For anatomical details of the skull and postcranial skeleton, please read the account in the Bibliography.

As far as I am aware, none have been offered in the pet trade, which may not be a bad thing given the restricted distribution of these skinks. In any case, their very small size (the Latin parvus means dwarf) and probably shy nature would make them unattractive to all but specialists.

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
P. palawanensis   Philippines (Palawan Island, W Philippines) SVL 3-3½cm This species was originally considered a member of the Lygosoma or Sphenomorphus genus (and known latterly as the Palawan Earless Sphenomorphus) before being reassigned to the new genus by Ferner, Brown and Greer. This is a slender-bodied skink with a rounded snout and short limbs. P. palawanensis differs from P. sisoni only in the following: prefrontals absent; 1 loreal; 5 infralabials. A phalange in the fifth toe of the pes. Scalation details: prefrontals and frontonasl fused; frontoparietals distinct; 4 large supraoculars. Dorsal scalation: 22-24 rows at midbody, 48-54 transverse rows. Other: 10-12 subdigital lamellae on 4th toe. Coloration (in preservative): dorsally mottled brown, most deeply pigmented dorsolaterally. Ventrally ivory-cream with brown spots on head, throat regions and tail [SOURCE: Alcala].
P. sisoni   Philippines (Panay Island, W of Luzon) 2-3" This species is based upon seven individuals collected by Ferner, Brown and Greer (others may have been collected since). P. sisoni is a slender dark brown skink with a conical snout and thin but functional limbs. Scalation details: prominent rostral; supranasal absent; nasals well separated; frontonasal wider than long; prefrontals moderately separated; frontal longer than wide. 4 supraoculars, of which 1 & 2 contact frontal; frontoparietals and interparietal distinct; parietal eye noticeable towards rear of interparietal. Nostril in centre of nasal; 2 loreals, but 2nd may be quite reduced; 2 preoculars, 1 presubocular; 9-10 supraciliaries of which 1st contacts frontal and last is largest and projects behind last supraocular; lower eyelid scaly; 2 pretemporals. 6 supralabials of which 4th is subocular; 2 postsupralabials; external ear opening covered by scales. Mental wider than long, postmental single; 3 pairs of submaxillaries of which 1st pair in contact, 2nd pair separated by 1 scale row and 3rd by 3 scale rows. 6 infralabials, of which 1st two on each side are contacted by postmental. Dorsal scales smooth in 24-26 rows at midbody; paravertebrals slightly wider than scales in adjacent rows, 62-68 in number; medial pair of preanal scales enlarged, inner preanals overlapping outer; supradigital scales in single row; 11-12 subdigital lamellae on 4th toe. Coloration: overall dark brown but with paler spots and pale venter. NB this applies only to the preserved specimens: colour details of live specimens were not recorded. Reproduction: no details available, other than one large oviduct was found in a female.


"A New Genus and Species of Moist Closed Canopy Forest Skinks from the Philippines", John W Ferner, Rafe M Brown and Allen E Greer, Journal of Herpetology, Vol 31 No 2, pp187-192, 1997.

Guide to Philippine Flora and Fauna. Volume X, Amphibians and Reptiles, Prof. Angel C Alcala, Natural Resources Management Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources and University of the Philippines, 1986. Very useful field guide to the herps of this area, which is usually under-represented in literature. One slight drawback is that the photographs are black-and-white and the descriptions of colour for many species are drawn from preserved specimens: otherwise this book is to be recommended if you can obtain a copy.



Back to Skinks | Lizards | Amphibians | Reptiles | Back to Home Page