Thursday, October 29, 2015

A new lizard: Euspondylus paxcorpus

Lizards of the genus Euspondylus belong to the family Gymnophthalmidae are also known as spectacled lizards. This name has to with their transparent lower eyelids, which allow them to see with closed eyes.

These New World lizards are very diverse in the lowland Amazonian forest and foothills, and the valleys and hillsides of the Andes. Some species reach high elevation in the Andes, such as Proctoporus bolivianus which can be found at 4080 m. Euspondylus paxcorpus was found in Junín Province, Peru at 3341 m.

The species name honors the Peace Corps because the lizards were discovered and collected by a Peace Corps Volunteer during his service in Peru to promote community-based environmental management.

For the experts: The South American gymnophthalmid genus Euspondylus is distributed from Venezuela through Peru, with its highest diversity occurring in Peru. Euspondylus paxcorpus sp. nov. is a new species from Junín, Peru possessing prefrontal scales and represented by 60 specimens. The new species differs from all other species by the combination of four supraoculars with supraocular/supraciliary fusion, 5–7 occipitals, a single palpebral scale, five supralabials and infralabials, quadrangular dorsal scales with low keels arranged in transverse series only, 40–45 in a longitudinal count and 22–28 in a transverse count, 12 rows of ventrals in a transverse count and 23–25 in a longitudinal count, and no sexual dimorphism in coloration. The discovery of E. paxcorpus increases the known number of Euspondylus species to 13. Because the coloration patterns of the specimens were greatly different after preservation in alcohol, caution should be used when identifying Euspondylus species from museum specimens.

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