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      New Uses for an Old and Abandoned Colonial Collection: The herpetological collection of the Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Lisbon, Portugal)

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      Biodiversity Information Science and Standards

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          The herpetological collections of the Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Lisbon, Portugal) are the largest and most diverse collections of amphibians and reptiles in the country. These were collected in the mid-twentieth century in the former Portuguese colonies in Africa and Asia, and were the object of study of several naturalists that used them to describe and catalogue the herpetofauna of those areas. After the independence of these colonies in the mid 1970's, the research on this material nearly halted, and the collections became abandoned, without proper curation and lacking accessibility. In 2015, we started a process to recover these collections (Fig. 1). This encompassed basic curation, e.g. cleaning and substituting jars and fluid preservatives, cataloguing the entire collection, digitizing and georeferencing all the specimens, and making data available through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility at GBIF.org. While doing this, each specimen was also linked to its bibliographic data, its taxonomic identity carefully reviewed, and rare and important specimens (e.g., type specimens) flagged. Currently, the collection is completely accessible, both physically and electronically, and it is being used by researchers and students around the world. Some results have already been published including the description of species new to science (Ceríaco et al. 2016, Ceríaco et al. 2017, Ceríaco 2015, Soares et al. 2018), new country checklists, the publication of an Atlas of Angolan Herpetofauna (Marques et al. 2018), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assessments, and student training. This presentation provides an overview of the recovery process of the collection, discusses strategies on how to digitize and make historical collections available to the community, and demonstrates how biological collections amassed during colonial times can be of extreme importance to the study and preservation of present day biodiversity.

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          Review of the leaf-litter skinks (Scincidae: Panaspis) from the Gulf of Guinea Oceanic Islands, with the description of a new species

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            The “Cobra-preta” of São Tomé Island, Gulf of Guinea, is a new species of Naja Laurenti, 1768 (Squamata: Elapidae)

            The Cobra-Preta (black snake in Portuguese) of Sao Tomé Island in the Gulf of Guinea has historically been referred to as Naja (Boulengerina) melanoleuca (Squamata: Elapidae). Its presence on the island has been traditionally explained as an introduction from the mainland by Portuguese settlers, supposedly to control the rat population. This explanation has been widely accepted by local authorities and even international conservation agencies. The taxonomic identity of this snake has remained undisputed by all taxonomists who have published about it, with the exception of L. Capocaccia in 1961. Arguments supporting the human introduction hypothesis are weak and are contradicted by historical, morphological and molecular data. Further, the biogeographic history of the Gulf of Guinea oceanic islands and recent insights on the taxonomic identity and evolutionary history of other taxonomic groups occurring there suggest that the Cobra-Preta, in fact, represents a distinct lineage of the melanoleuca group, endemic to São Tomé. We here describe the Cobra Preta as a new species. The new species differs from N. (B.) melanoleuca, its sister species, by a distinct coloration ventral pattern and the type of contact of the sublingual scales. Data on the toxicology, distribution, ecology, folklore and conservation status of the new species are presented. 
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              Lost in the middle of the sea, found in the back of the shelf: A new giant species of Trachylepis (Squamata: Scincidae) from Tinhosa Grande islet, Gulf of Guinea

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Biodiversity Information Science and Standards
                BISS
                Pensoft Publishers
                2535-0897
                June 19 2019
                June 19 2019
                : 3
                Article
                10.3897/biss.3.37268
                © 2019

                http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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