Monday, January 25, 2016

A new iguana: Liolaemus uniformis

During a field trip at 3000 metres above sea level  in the mountains of central Chile, a group of scientists discovered a new endemic iguana species. Accustomed to life in highland rocky habitats with scarce greenery, these lizards spend their active hours mostly hidden under rocks.

In comparison with other local lizard species members of this new species show very consistent colouration among collected individuals, regardless of population or their sex. Eventually, it was this peculiar uniformity that determined the lizard's name Liolaemus uniformis.

For the experts:  The Liolaemus nigroviridis group is a clade of highland lizards endemic to Chile. These species are distributed from northern to central Chile, and currently there are no cases of sympatric distribution. This study describes a new species, Liolaemus uniformis sp. n., from this group, and provides a detailed morphological characterization and mitochondrial phylogeny using cytochrome-b. Liolaemus uniformis was found in sympatry with L. nigroviridis but noticeably differed in size, scalation, and markedly in the color pattern, without sexual dichromatism. This new species has probably been confused with L. monticola and L. bellii, both of which do not belong to the nigroviridis group. The taxonomic issues of this group that remain uncertain are also discussed.

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