Eremiadini, Shcherbak, 1975

Published, First, 2007, Systematics of the Palaearctic and Oriental lizard tribe Lacertini (Squamata: Lacertidae: Lacertinae), with descriptions of eight new genera, Zootaxa 1430, pp. 1-86: 67

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History of Eremiadini  

Separation of the Eremiadini   from the Lacertini   may have been around 16 My ago in the mid-Miocene ( Fig. 2). This could have been associated with movement into Africa, as invasion of this continent from Europe became easier in the middle of this period 15–19 My ago, when the African-Arabian plate made more or less permanent contact with western Eurasia, specifically between the Arabia and Turkey (Adams et al. 1983; Rögl 1999). This event was followed by considerable faunal exchange, including reptiles (Roček 1984). The northwest African distribution of Atlantolacerta   , which probably occupies a basal position in the Eremiadini   could be taken as indicating the tribe entered the continent by this route, perhaps by island-hopping across the Betic islands lying between Africa and southwest Europe at the time. However, phylogenetic topology provides no evidence that this route was actually taken.

As noted, Atlantolacerta   lacks the distinctive derived features of nearly all other Eremiadini   , namely a derived condition of the ulnar nerve and the presence of a fully developed armature in the hemipenis which has folded lobes when retracted. This suggests these features evolved after the Eremiadini   arrived in Africa. Once established in the continent, mesic forms appear to have spread widely, reaching east Arabia ( Omanosaura   ), the Equatorial region ( Poromera   and the ancestor of the species of Adolfus   , Holaspis   and Gastropholis   ), southern Africa ( Australolacerta   and Tropidosaura   ). As already discussed, there may have been three transitions from mesic to xeric habitats, or even more, with substantial parallelism in the evolution of functionally associated features. One set of xeric forms, namely Eremias   , Acanthodactylus   , Ophisops   and Mesalina   , also extends into southwest and central Asia.