Vhembelacerta Edwards, Herrel, Vanhooydonck, Measey, Tolley& Branch

Edwards, Shelley, Branch, William R., Vanhooydonck, Bieke, Herrel, Anthony, Measey, G. John & Tolley, Krystal A., 2013, Taxonomic adjustments in the systematics of the southern African lacertid lizards (Sauria: Lacertidae), Zootaxa 3669 (2), pp. 101-114 : 108

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https://doi.org/ 10.11646/zootaxa.3669.2.1

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Vhembelacerta Edwards, Herrel, Vanhooydonck, Measey, Tolley& Branch


Vhembelacerta Edwards, Herrel, Vanhooydonck, Measey, Tolley& Branch , gen. nov.

Type species. Lacerta rupicola FitzSimons 1933

Content. Vhembelacerta rupicola (FitzSimons 1933)

Characterization and diagnosis. The monophyly of the monotypic genus Vhembelacerta is established on the basis of a suite of mitochondrial and nuclear markers (Edwards et al. 2012; this study). Morphologically similar to Australolacerta (differences noted in brackets below), it can be distinguished from all other lacertids by the following combination of characteristics (FitzSimons 1943; Jacobsen 1989; Branch 1998;Kirchhof& Richter 2009): size small, (SVL ~ 52mm), maximum snout-vent length (SVL) 70mm, tail somewhat depressed basally, cylindrical distally, nearly 1.5x SVL (up to 2x SVL); upper head shields smooth; nostril pierced between a supranasal, 2 postnasals and narrowly separated from first upper labial (in contact with first upper labial); supranasals in contact behind rostral; frontonasal much broader than long; prefrontals in contact; frontal hexagonal; supraoculars 4, 1st smallest and separated from frontal; parietals in contact with 4th supraocular; shallow parietal foramen present (absent); rostral not entering nostril; 5 (4) upper labials anterior to subocular, whose lower border is not distinctly narrowed (lower border much shorter than upper) and only feebly keeled; lower eyelid scaly but with a about 3 enlarged and elongate scales in the middle (no enlarged scales in lower eyelid); elongate tympanic shield on upper anterior border of large, exposed ear-opening; five pairs of chin shields, first smallest, first 3 in contact in midline; gular fold distinct (present, but not strongly marked); collar present, straight, free, composed of 7–8 scales; dorsal scales flat, hexagonal, faintly keeled posteriorly and in 34–43 rows across midbody (small, granular, non-keeled and about 68 across midbody); ventral plates quadrangular, feebly imbricate and in 6 longitudinal and about 26 (28) transverse rows; a very large preanal plate, bordered by smaller plates (enlarged preanal preceded by two smaller ones); femoral pores 15–19; subdigital lamellae smooth, about 26 below 4th toe (23–25); and the adpressed hindlimb reaches the armpit (to collar).

Coloration: top of head and dorsum dark brown, back with paired narrow reddish brown vertebral stripes, and a white dorsolateral stripe that extends from the eye to the tail base (head and dorsum olive-green, body with numerous spots that are yellow dorsally and white on flanks, demarcated by a dorsolateral series of orange spots).

Distribution. Endemic to the Soutpansberg mountain range in Limpopo Province, South Africa (Branch 1998).

Etymology. The species is endemic to the Vhembe region of Limpopo Province, South Africa, after which the genus name is partially constructed. The second part of the name “lacerta’ (L. lizard) also retains the historical link to the genus Lacerta to which the single species was originally referred.











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