Cordylus phonolithos, Marques & Ceríaco & Stanley & Bandeira & Agarwal & Bauer, 2019

Marques, Mariana P., Ceríaco, Luis M. P., Stanley, Edward L., Bandeira, Suzana A., Agarwal, Ishan & Bauer, Aaron M., 2019, A new species of Girdled Lizard (Squamata: Cordylidae) from the Serra da Neve Inselberg, Namibe Province, southwestern Angola, Zootaxa 4668 (4), pp. 503-524: 509-518

publication ID 10.11646/zootaxa.4668.4.4

publication LSID


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scientific name

Cordylus phonolithos

sp. nov.

Cordylus phonolithos   sp. nov.

( Tables 1–2 View Table 1 View TABLE 2 ; Fig. 4–8 View FIGURE 4 View FIGURE 5 View FIGURE 6 View FIGURE 7 View FIGURE 8 )


C. namakuiyus   [part]: Stanley et al. (2016: 209) View Cited Treatment

Holotype. A subadult male ( CAS 263581 View Materials , field number AMB 10296 View Materials ; Figs. 4–5A View FIGURE 4 View FIGURE 5 ) collected within a crevice in a granite boulder in the vicinity of N’Dolondolo ( Figs. 2 View FIGURE 2 , 9 View FIGURE 9 ), Namibe Province, Angola [- 13.80678ºN, 13.13507ºE, 752 m elevation], collected by L. Ceríaco, S. Bandeira and I. Agarwal, on 21 November 2016. GoogleMaps  

Paratype. A juvenile specimen ( INBAC: AMB 10272 View Materials [same as field number]; Fig. 5B View FIGURE 5 ), collected at the same locality as the holotype, under a small granite rock on a larger rock, by the same collectors, on 20 November 2016 GoogleMaps   .

Diagnosis. A medium sized Cordylus   species, identified to genus by the following combination of characters: fully limbed, strongly depressed triangular head and body, osteoderms present, rhomboidal, imbricate and keeled dorsal scales present, occipitals non-spinose, and spinose caudal and limb scales enlarged ( Branch 1998; Broadley & Branch 2002; Stanley et al. 2011). Cordylus phonolithos   sp. nov. differs from all other species in the genus except for C. vittifer (Reichenow, 1887)   , C. machadoi   and C. namakuiyus   , by the presence (versus absence) of a transverse row of elongated dorsal scales immediately posterior to occipitals ( Fig. 6 View FIGURE 6 ). It is distinguished from C. vittifer   by possessing an incomplete row of pre-occipital scales between posterior parietal and occipital scales (versus complete), and by having infralabials that are moderately deeply ridged (versus usually smooth). It is distinguished from C. machadoi   by having a large keyhole-shaped interparietal in contact with frontoparietals and separating the anterior parietals (versus small, diamond-shaped interparietal not in contact with frontoparietal and never completely separating the anterior parietals in C. machadoi   , see Fig. 6 View FIGURE 6 ); having the intrusion of a scale in broad contact with the interparietal and occipitals, thereby separating posterior parietals (versus absence of this scale and posterior parietals in full contact in C. machadoi   , see Fig. 6 View FIGURE 6 ); a higher number of supralabials (6 in C. phonolithos   sp. nov. versus 5 in C. machadoi   ); males with fewer caudal scales at the 15 th tail whorl (8 in C. phonolithos   sp. nov. versus 10–11 in C. machadoi   ); an orange-brown dorsal body coloration (versus darker brown to black in C. machadoi   ), the absence of dark speckles on throat and ventral body surfaces (versus presence in C. machadoi   ) and a reduced, widely separated posteromedial parietal process (similar to C. angolensis   and unlike C. machadoi   , in which it is extensive and forked, and C. namakuiyus   , in which it is extended and unbifurcated). It is distinguished from C. namakuiyus   by having the intrusion of a scale in broad contact with interparietal and occipitals, thereby separating posterior parietals (versus absence of this scale, posterior parietals in full contact, see Fig. 6 View FIGURE 6 ); a higher number of supralabials (6 in C. phonolithos   sp. nov. versus 4–5 in C. namakuiyus   ); a higher number of femoral pores (7 in C. phonolithos   sp. nov. versus 4-6 in C. namakuiyus   ); a higher number of generation glands (16–17 in C. phonolithos   sp. nov. versus 12 in C. namakuiyus   ); males with fewer caudal scales at the 15 th tail whorl (8 in C. phonolithos   sp. nov. versus 10 in C. namakuiyus   ); absence of osteoderms on throat and ventral surfaces (versus presence), and significantly thicker caudal osteoderms than dorsal osteoderms (resembling C. machadoi   and C. angolensis   ); temporal scales are weakly keeled (versus strongly keeled). In coloration C. phonolithos   sp. nov. is quite similar to C. namakuiyus   , although the new species has a more vibrant coloration (orange-brown versus light brown). It is distinguished from C. angolensis   by having a large keyhole-shaped interparietal in contact with frontoparietals, thereby separating anterior parietals, with an intrusion of a scale in broad contact with interparietal and occipitals (versus small, diamond-shaped interparietal not in contact with frontoparietal, thereby never completely separating anterior parietals, posterior parietals in broad contact, see Fig. 6 View FIGURE 6 ); fewer ventral transverse scale rows (23 versus 27), orange-brown dorsal body coloration (versus brown with blackish speckles over paler dorsal ground coloration), and by the absence of a longitudinal series of whitish speckles along dorsal surface (versus presence of two longitudinal series of small whitish speckles along dorsum), and presence (versus absence) of a loreal.

Description of holotype. SVL 71.4 mm. Head and body depressed. Head 1.3 times longer (21.6 mm) than broad (16.5 mm). HH 8.7 mm. SEL 8.2 mm. Nasals in median broad contact; entire frontonasal lozenge-shaped, broader than long, separated from frontal by enlarged prefrontals (in median contact, forming a suture), separated from rostral by nasals, separated from loreal by prefrontals; frontal in contact with first and second supraoculars, followed by a pair of frontoparietals in broad, median contact; a distinctive keyhole-shaped interparietal in broad contact with the frontoparietals, separating anterior parietals; intrusion of a scale in broad contact with interparietal and occipitals, thereby separating posterior parietals; right posterior parietal scale is fragmented; parietal window visible; 10 rugose occipital scales; 10 elongated nuchal scales. Four supraoculars and three supraciliaries. Nasals large, with nostril pierced centrally on upper margin. Loreal in contact with preocular, nasal and first two supralabials; three suboculars, well separated from the lip by the third, fourth and fifth supralabials. Rostral twice as broad as deep; supralabials 6; infralabials 6; chin shields 5. Mental twice as broad as long; gulars smooth, enlarged and forming transverse rows posteriorly, with 17 gulars between the posterior extent of the jaws. Dorsal scales rectangular, rugose, strongly and obtusely keeled; dorsals and laterals in 25 transverse and 23 longitudinal rows; ventrals squarish, smooth, in 23 transverse and 17 longitudinal rows. Scales on dorsum of limbs large, strongly keeled and spinose with thin, non-imbricated osteoderms; subdigital lamellae under fourth toe 15; SAL 28.9 mm. AGD 32.4 mm. HML 9.3 mm, RUL 7.9 mm; FL 12.9 mm; TFL 10.6 mm; LTL 9.8 mm; femoral pores seven; generation glands 16–17. Tail with whorls of large, elongate, strongly keeled, spinose and acuminate scales, spines directed posteriorly; largest spines in dorsolateral position.

Cranial osteology. The parietal is pentagonal with two short, well-spaced posteromedial processes bracing a very small, laterally flattened posteriomedial supraoccipital process ( Fig. 7 View FIGURE 7 ). The premaxilla is unpaired and bears seven pleurodont teeth and five foramina, with a dorsal process that extends posteriorly to be clasped by the nasals, which themselves insert into an unpaired frontal posteriorly and prefrontals posterolaterally. The maxilla is typically scinciform, with a deeply grooved crista dentalis and 20 pleurodont teeth. A laminar lacrimal lies medial to the facial process of the maxilla, extending from the posterioventral process of the prefrontal to the anterior process of the jugal. No palpebral is present, though the prefrontal has a small, flattened, laterally projecting tubercle that supports the anteriormost superorbital osteoderm in much the same way. The jugal is triangular in cross-section and asymmetrically T-shaped, with a tapering anterior process and a broad, truncated posterior process that extends along and past the posterior edge of the maxilla. Edentate pterygoids extend back to connect with the quadrates, becoming C-shaped in cross-section posterior to the epipterygoid condyle. The squamosal is curved and blade-like, circular in cross-section anteriorly, becoming flattened posteriorly, where it articulates with the cephalic condyle of the quadrate and the supratemporals. Supratemporals are flattened, sickle-shaped and unfused with the paroccipital processes. The bones of the braincase are unfused, suggesting that this individual may be a subadult. The prootic bears an extended alar process, a well-developed, anteriorly expanded crista prootica, and a very weak supratrigeminal process. Basipterygoid processes are well developed and flattened. The lower jaw has a large adductor fossa, a flattened and medially curved retroarticular process, a medially open Meckelian canal and a dentary with a strong subdental shelf, 22 mandibular teeth, and 11 dentary foramina.

Postcranial osteology. The holotype has 25 presacral, two sacral and 16 postsacral vertebrae ( Fig. 7 View FIGURE 7 ). There are five cervical ribs, three sternal ribs and two xiphisternal ribs. The asternal ribs are asymmetric, with four long ribs with ossified costal cartilage and six short asternal ribs on the left side and five long and seven short ribs on the right. The first three cervical ribs are distally flattened with bifid cartilaginous projections. The pelvic girdle is well developed and flattened. No iliac tubercle is present. There is a well-developed, ventrally angled pubic tubercle directly anterior to the obturator foramen. Both hypoischium and hyperischium are well developed. Pubic bones are well separated by a bifurcate prepubic cartilage. The sternal plate is broad and lacks a fontanelle. Interclavicle cruciform, clavicles rod-like and flattened dorsally. The epicoracoid is narrow and curved, connecting the scapular ray to the primary and secondary coracoid rays, but not to the anterior process of the scapular. The condyles of long bones are unfused and the metatarsals and metacarpels are not fully developed, suggesting that this individual is not fully adult. Digits display the typical squamate phalangeal arrangement of 2-3-4-5-3 for the manus and 2-3-4-5-4 for the pes.

Osteoderms. Scales of the dorsal and temporal regions of the skull and the ventrolateral aspects of the jaws are underlain with rugose osteoderms ( Fig. 8 View FIGURE 8 ). These osteoderms are fused to the proximal parietal, frontal and postorbital bones, although the mesokinetic and metakinetic joints appear unobstructed and flexible. The tail, legs and dorsal and lateral aspects of the body are covered in osteoderms ( Fig. 9 View FIGURE 9 ). The dorsal and lateral trunk are protected by noncontiguous, rectangular, 100-200 µm thick osteoderms that become increasingly keeled and mucronate laterally. The caudal osteoderms are significantly thicker (up to 500µm), sharply spined and arranged in imbricate transverse whorls. The whole limbs are covered by imbricate circular/rhomboid osteoderms, keeled and mucronate dorsally, plate-like ventrally. The gular and ventral regions lack osteoderms.

Coloration. Dorsum orange-brown, fading to dirty yellow laterally. Head orange-brown; supralabials and infralabials yellowish; a dark-brown bar extends from the posterior aspect of the eye to the temporals. The base of the tail is brown, with an orange coloration similar to that the laterally that extends towards the tip; dorsum of limbs dark brown. Laterally, a dark-brown line extends from the neck towards the insertion of the forelimbs. The body venter is cream and subcaudal surface is faded orange.

TABLE 2. Variation in meristic counts for specimens of Cordylus phonolithos   sp. nov., C. namakuiyus   , C. machadoi   and C. angolensis   . All measurements are presented in millimeters (mm). Data of C. namakuiyus   retrieved from Stanley et al. (2016); data for C. machadoi   retrieved from Stanley et al. (2016) and two additional specimens from this study; data for C. phonolithos   sp. nov. and C. angolensis   collected in this study View Figure .

Variation. Variation in meristic counts of the type series is reported in Table 2 View TABLE 2 . The single juvenile paratype agrees almost entirely with the holotype, although, the loreal and the preocular scales are fused and the right posterior parietal is entire. Measurements of the paratype are the following: SVL 49.9 mm; HL 15.2 mm; HW 10.7 mm; HH 6.4 mm; SEL 5.8 mm; SAL 20.2 mm; AGD 23.1 mm; HML 6 mm; RUL 5.4 mm; FL 7.9 mm; TFL 7.8 mm; LTL 8 mm.

Distribution. The new species is known only from N’Dolondolo, at the base of the Serra de Neve Inselberg in Namibe Province, Angola. The observational record cited by Stanley et al. (2016), originally identified as C. namakuyius   from “Sera [sic] de Neve” (= Serra da Neve) is likely to correspond to C. phonolithos   sp. nov.

Habitat and Natural history notes. This species was found in granite outcrops in “sparse Miombo” forest ( Fig. 10 View FIGURE 10 ), dominated by trees of the genera Brachystegia   and Jubernardia ( Grandvaux-Barbosa 1970). The juvenile paratype was found under a small granite rock on a larger rock, while the holotype was collected from within a crevice in a granite boulder. The latter was exposed outside of the crevice, quickly sheltering in response to our presence. CT scanning of the holotype revealed a myriapod carapace in its digestive tract.

Etymology. The specific epithet “ phonolithos   ” is a noun in apposition from the Greek “ phono” = sound + “ lithos” = rock, which means “sound stone”. In the local Mucobal language the type locality name, “N’Dolondolo” means literally “rock that sounds like a bell” or “bell” and stems from the presence of a large and famous phonolite stone at the locality. Phonolites are rare igneous volcanic stones of intermediate composition between felsic and maphic, with aphanitic to porphyritic texture that produce a very distinctive metallic sound when hit, similar to the ringing of a metallic bell. We suggest “N’Dolondolo Girdled Lizard” and “Lagarto Espinhoso de N’Dolondolo” as the English and Portuguese common names, respectively, for this species.


Asenovgrad Museum














Cordylus phonolithos

Marques, Mariana P., Ceríaco, Luis M. P., Stanley, Edward L., Bandeira, Suzana A., Agarwal, Ishan & Bauer, Aaron M. 2019