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Acanthodactylus aureus GÜNTHER, 1903

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Higher TaxaLacertidae, Eremiadinae, Sauria, Lacertoidea, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Golden Fringe-fingered Lizard
G: Gold-Fransenfinger 
SynonymAcanthodactylus inornatus aureus GÜNTHER 1903: 298
Acanthodactylus scutellatus aureus — BONS 1959
Acanthodactylus inornatus aureus — BONS & GIROT 1964
Acanthodactylus aureus — SALVADOR 1982: 122
Acanthodactylus aureus — SCHLEICH, KÄSTLE & KABISCH 1996: 396
Acanthodactylus aureus— HARRIS & ARNOLD 2000
Acanthodactylus aureus — SINDACO & JEREMČENKO 2008 
DistributionAtlantic coastal regions from SW Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal.

Type locality: Rio de Oro, Western Sahara. Restricted to ‘Villa Cisneros’ [ = Dakhla], Western Sahara, by lectotype designation.  
TypesLectotype: MNHN-RA 1918-11, an adult male from ‘Villa Cisneros’ (= Dakhla), Western Sahara (designated by CROCHET et al. 2003). Paralectotypes: BMNH 1946.8.5.2-26, USNM 33109-33111, MNHN-RA 1918.11-12 (and others, see also CROCHET et al. 2003). The syntypes from Southern Algeria are most likely specimens of A. taghitensis (CROCHET et al. 2003). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Medium-sized, slender body. Sharply pointed snout. Four supralabials anterior to the subocular. Four entire supraoculars. Temporals keeled. Low number of dorsals. 14 oblique longitudinal rows of ventrals. Four series of scales on fingers. Row of granules between the supraoculars and superciliaries usually absent, at times one. Third pair of submaxillaries separated or only partially in contact. Reticulate color pattern (Salvador 1982: 122).

Acanthodactylus aureus can be distinguished from all other members of the scutellatus group except A. taghitensis by a peculiar head scalation: in this species two supralabials only are in contact with the subocular, as a result of the fusion of the third and fourth (rarely the fourth and fifth) supralabials. This character was absent in only one of the A. aureus in our sample (n = 77), and was present in only one A. scutellatus and one A. dumerili (out of 746 specimens that do not belong to A. aureus or A. taghitensis). In addition, we found other diagnostic characters in colour pattern and habitus (see systematic account below). Acanthodactylus aureus, based on our sample, is thus a clearly diagnosable and easy to identify taxon (Crochet et al. 2003). 
CommentA. aureus is the most common lacertid on the whole oceanic side of Western Sahara. Animals from Fderik (Mauritania) are referable to Acanthodactylus taghitensis. 
EtymologyNamed after the Latin adjective aureolus (=aureus) = "golden". 
  • Böhme, W. 1978. Zur Herpetofaunistik des Senegal. Bonner Zoologische Beiträge 29 (4): 360-417 - get paper here
  • Bons, J. 1959. Les lacertiliens du sud-ouest Marocain; systematique, repartition geographique, ethologie, ecologie. Instit. Sci. Cherifien, Rabat, Trav. (Ser. Zool.) no. 18 130 pp.
  • Bons,J. & GIROT,B. 1964. Révision de l'espèce Acanthodactylus scutellatus (Lacertidé-Saurien). Bull. Soc. Sci. nat. phys. Maroc 42: 311-334 [1962]
  • Crochet, P.A.; Geniez, P. & Ineich, I. 2003. A multivariate analysis of the fringe-toed lizards of the Acanthodactylus scutellatus group (Squamata: Lacertidae): systematic and biogeographical implications. Zool. J. Linnean Soc.137: 117–155 - get paper here
  • Elbahi A, Lawton C, Oubrou W, El Bekkay M, Hermas J, Dugon M 2022. Reptile biodiversity in Souss-Massa National Park: an internationally important hotspot in the Mediterranean region. Biodiversity Data Journal 10: e79088 - get paper here
  • Geniez, P.; Mateo, J.A.; Geniez, M. & Pether, J. 2004. The amphibians and reptiles of the Western Sahara (former Spanish Sahara) and adjacent regions. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 228 pp. [reviewed in Reptilia GB 44: 81]
  • Günther, A. 1903. Reptiles from Rio de Oro, Western Sahara. Novitates Zoologicae 10: 298-299 - get paper here
  • Liz, A. V., Rödder, D., Gonçalves, D. V., Velo‐Antón, G., Tarroso, P., Geniez, P., ... & Brito, J. C. 2022. Overlooked species diversity in the hyper‐arid Sahara Desert unveiled by dryland‐adapted lizards. Journal of Biogeography - get paper here
  • Martínez del Mármol, Gabriel; D. James Harris, Philippe Geniez, Philip de Pous, and Daniele Salvi 2019. Amphibians and Reptiles of Morocco. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 478 pp - get paper here
  • Mellado,J. & Olmedo,G. 1990. El género Acanthodactylus en Marruecos: problemas de identificación en los grupos de especies A. pardalis y A. scutellatus. Amphibia-Reptilia 11: 131-146 - get paper here
  • Padial, J. M. 2006. COMMENTED DISTRIBUTIONAL LIST OF THE REPTILES OF MAURITANIA (WEST AFRICA). Graellsia, 62(2): 159-178 - get paper here
  • Pieh, Alexander P 2006. Bemerkungen zu den Echsen Marokkos. Die Eidechse 17(2): 33-41. - get paper here
  • Salvador, A 1982. A revision of the lizards of the genus Acanthodactylus (Sauria: Lacertidae). Bonner Zool. Monogr. (16): 1-167 - get paper here
  • Schleich, H.H., Kästle,W., Kabisch, K. 1996. Amphibians and Reptiles of North Africa. Koeltz, Koenigstein, 627 pp.
  • Schlüter, U. 2007. Fransenfingereidechsen (Acanthodactylus) in der Natur und im Terrarium. Teil 2: Gundlagen der Terrarienhaltung und Reproduktionsbiologie. Reptilia (Münster) 12 (67): 56-65 - get paper here
  • Schlüter, U. 2007. Fransenfingereidechsen (Acanthodactylus) in der Natur und im Terrarium. Teil 1: Allgemeines zur Ökologie und Verhalten. Reptilia (Münster) 12 (66): 68-76 - get paper here
  • Schlüter, U. 2010. Fransenfingereidechsen (Acanthodactylus) in der Natur und im Terrarium. Teil 5a: Die Acanthodactylus-scutellatus-Gruppe. Reptilia (Münster) 15 (83): 40-45 - get paper here
  • SCHWEIGER, M. 2013. Acanthodactylus aureus GÜNTHER, 1903 - der Gold-Fransenfinger. Die Eidechse 24 (2): 43-50. - get paper here
  • Sindaco, R. & Jeremcenko, V.K. 2008. The reptiles of the Western Palearctic. Edizioni Belvedere, Latina (Italy), 579 pp. - get paper here
  • Sow, Andack Saad; Fernando Martínez-Freiría, Pierre-André Crochet, Philippe Geniez, Ivan Ineich, Hamidou Dieng, Soumia Fahd, José Carlos Brito 2015. Atlas of the distribution of reptiles in the Parc National du Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania. Basic and Applied Herpetology - get paper here
  • Trape, J.F.; Trape, S. & Chirio, L. 2012. Lézards, crocodiles et tortues d'Afrique occidentale et du Sahara. IRD Orstom, 503 pp. - get paper here
  • van der Kuyl, Antoinette C.; Donato L. Ph. Ballasina, John T. Dekker, Jolanda Maas, Ronald E. Willemsen and Jaap Goudsmit 2002. Phylogenetic Relationships among the Species of the Genus Testudo (Testudines: Testudinidae) Inferred from Mitochondrial 12S rRNA Gene Sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 22: 174-183 - get paper here
  • Velo-Antón G, Martínez-Freiría F, Pereira P, Crochet P-A, Brito JC. 2018. Living on the edge: Ecological and genetic connectivity of the spiny-footed lizard, Acanthodactylus aureus, confirms the Atlantic Sahara desert as a biogeographic corridor and centre of lineage diversification. J Biogeogr. 2018;00:1–12 - get paper here
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