Eumeces fasciatus, the five-lined skink, occurs south from the lower penninsula of Michigan, southern Ontario, and eastern New York to northern Florida, and west to Wisconsin, part of Michigan's upper penninsula, Missouri, and eastern regions of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Isolated populations also occur in northeasten Iowa, west central Minnesota, and connected portions of southern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Five-lined skinks prefer moist wooded or partially wooded areas with significant cover and abundant basking sites. Most inhabit disturbed environments, such as forest edges, cleared areas, or burned regions, and may also occur among driftwood piles on the sandy beaches of the Great Lakes.
Eumeces fasciatus gains its common name from the five yellow to cream equant stripes running from their snout to their tail. Adults typically are drab aside from these lines (and males usually lose them altogether), but juveniles have a bright blue tail. This is thought to draw the attention of predators, which will attack the detachable (autotomous) tail while the animal escapes.
Eumeces fasciatus is a member of Scincidae, the largest 'family' of extant lizards (see also Chalcides ocellatus, the ocellated skink). Scincidae includes over 1200 species, occurring on all continents except Antarctica. Skinks are diagnosed in part by the presence of compound osteoderms dorsally and ventrally. These are quite apparent in the animations above, but obscure other skink features like closure of the supratemporal fossa primarily by the postfrontal, and jugal-squamosal contact on the supratemporal arch present or close. High-resolution X-ray computed tomography makes it possible to digitally remove these osteoderms to facilitate the study of cranial structure.
Within Scincidae, Eumeces fasciatus resides within Scincinae, a group that includes roughly 28 genera but may not be monophyletic. Scincinae (or some portion thereof) is thought to be the most basal divergence within Scincidae, thus E. fasciatus was scanned because it closely brackets this ancestral node.
About the Species
This frozen specimen, a male, was collected from McGee Creek Natural Scenic and Recreation Area, Little Bugaboo Valley, Atoka County, Oklahoma by J. Lazell 22 April 2001. It was made available to the University of Texas High-Resolution X-ray CT Facility for scanning by Dr. Jessie Maisano of The University of Texas and Dr. Jacques Gauthier of Yale University. Funding for scanning was provided by an NSF grant (DEB-0132227) to Dr. Jack Sites of Brigham Young University. Funding for image processing was provided by a National Science Foundation Assembling the Tree of Life grant (EF-0334961), The Deep Scaly Project: Resolving Squamate Phylogeny using Genomic and Morphological Approaches, to Drs. Jacques Gauthier of Yale University, Maureen Kearney of the Field Museum, Mike Lee of the University of Adelaide, Jessie Maisano of The University of Texas at Austin, Tod Reeder of San Diego State University, Olivier Rieppel of the Field Museum, Jack Sites of Brigham Young University, and John Wiens of SUNY Stonybrook.
About this Specimen
The specimen was scanned by Matthew Colbert on 20 August 2002 along the coronal axis for a total of 540 slices, each slice 0.0377 mm thick with an interslice spacing of 0.0377 mm.
Clark, D. R., Jr., and R. J. Hall. 1970. Function of the blue tail-coloration of the five-lined skink (Eumeces fasciatus). Herpetologica 26:271-274.
Fitch, H. S. 1954. Life history and ecology of the five-lined skink, Eumeces fasciatus. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History Publication 8:1-156.
Greer, A. E. 1970. A subfamilial classification of scincid lizards. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 139:151-183.
Griffith, H., A. Ngo, and R. W. Murphy. 2000. A cladistic evaluation of the cosmopolitan genus Eumeces Wiegmann (Reptilia, Squamata, Scincidae). Russian Journal of Herpetology 7:1-16.
Harding, J. 1997. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Murphy, R. W., W. E. Cooper, Jr., and W. S. Richardson. 1983. Phylogenetic relationships of the North American five-lined skinks, genus Eumeces (Sauria, Scincidae). Herpetologica 39:200-211.
Seburn, C. N. L. 1993. Spatial distribution and microhabitat use in the five-lined skink (Eumeces fasciatus). Canadian Journal of Zoology 71:445-450.
Eumeces fasciatus on the Animal Diversity Web (The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology)
Scincidae page from the EMBL Reptile Database
Three-dimensional volumetric renderings of the skull with the osteoderms, scleral ossicles, hyoid and jaw removed, and of the isolated left mandible. All are 2mb or less.