Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps


Compiler and date details

April 2018 - A. Wells

September 2011 - Dr Paul Horner



This largest and most diverse family of lizards contains more than 1,275 species in 85 genera; of these, some 389 species and 38 genera occur in Australia and make up about 50% of our total lizard fauna. The family is represented in all tropical and temperate regions, although it is most speciose in the region encompassing Africa, southern Asia, the Indo-Australian Archipelago, New Guinea and Australia.

A recent proposal by Hedges (2014), based on a molecular phylogeny, to split Scincidae into 7 separate families (5 of which would include Australian representatives) is not followed here. A second analysis based on "data from 10 nuclear genes for 17 ingroup taxa and 44 genes for 12 taxa" by Lambert et al. (2014) found Scincidae to be a monophyletic group, probably comprising 3 subgroups at subfamily level.

Shea (2021) provides a new family group classification of the Scinidae with detailed synonymies for supra-generic taxa.


Excluded Taxa


SCINCIDAE: Lygosoma Hardwicke & Gray, 1827 [Eumeces bowringii Günther, A. 1864 (Christmas Island Grass-skink) the only representative of Lygosoma in Australia placed into new genus Subdoluseps Freitas, Datta-Roy, Karanth, Grismer & Siler, 2019] — Freitas, E.S., Datta-Roy, A., Karanth, P., Grismer, L.L. & Siler, C.D. 2019. Multilocus phylogeny and a new classification for African, Asian and Indian supple and writhing skinks (Scincidae: Lygosominae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 186: 1067-1096 [1088]



Characterised in Australia by: limbs variable, ranging from well-developed pentadactyl forms through various stages of limb and digit reduction to snake- or worm-like forms in which limbs are entirely absent; eyelids either movable or fixed, the latter either forming a complete, sealed spectacle or with a slit-like opening above; pupil usually circular, sometimes vertically elliptical; external ear opening either present or absent; body scales usually imbricate, rarely juxtaposed; tongue broad, flat and fleshy, slightly notched in front; scales on top of head usually enlarged to form a series of symmetrical shields.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
07-Feb-2024 SQUAMATA 07-Feb-2024 MODIFIED
21-May-2023 SCINCIDAE 06-Dec-2023 MODIFIED
07-Feb-2024 LACERTILIA 10-Mar-2023 MODIFIED
18-May-2017 SCINCIDAE 12-May-2017 MODIFIED
11-Dec-2014 SCINCIDAE 03-Dec-2014 REVIEWED
07-Feb-2024 LACERTILIA 22-Oct-2014 MODIFIED Dr Federica Turco (QM)
07-Feb-2024 16-Dec-2011 MODIFIED
08-Mar-2011 08-Mar-2011 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)