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Blanus mariae ALBERT & FERNÁNDEZ, 2009

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Higher TaxaBlanidae, Amphisbaenia, Lacertoidea, Squamata 
Common Names 
SynonymBlanus mariae ALBERT & FERNÁNDEZ 2009 
DistributionS Portugal, S Spain, Gibraltar

Type locality: Faro region, Loulé (37º 08´N, -8º 02´W), Portugal. Map legend:
Type locality - Type locality.
TDWG region - Region according to the TDWG standard, not a precise distribution map.

NOTE: TDWG regions are generated automatically from the text in the distribution field and not in every cases it works well. We are working on it.
TypesHolotype: MNCN 44638 Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid, Spain. An adult female collected by Eva M. Albert and Jordi Bascompte on March 2002. 
CommentThis is a cryptic species, i.e. it is not morphologically distinguishable from B. cinereus.

Diagnosis. The new species Blanus mariae is similar in external color and patterns to Blanus cinereus, but shows some different morphological characteristics and present genealogical concordance of the mitochondrial and nuclear DNA haplotypes. B. mariae is larger than its sister species; average SVL of adults 175 mm, with heads larger; average 7.4 mm and has more body annuli; average 116.6, but B. mariae has fewer dorsal and ventral segments (between 13-17 and 13-18 respectively) than B. cinereus. Color in live goes from pale pink to dark brilliant purple, with a reticulate pattern due to the intersegmental sutures. All plates of the body have the same dark purple color. Some head scales, specifically the prefrontal plate appeared slightly clearer, showing a pale pink. Coloration in preservative is reticulate mottling of brown and with the lateral sulci and the background of light beige. Usually the snout of some specimens in preservation is light beige. Genetically, both species are clearly different. The phylogenetic tree shows two well differentiate clades, forming reciprocally monophyletic units with high support of bootstrap and posterior probabilities values. The sequence divergence between B. cinereus and B. mariae in the mitochondrial gene ND4 is very high, from 10.5 to 12.4% The populations of the new species have five unique and different mitochondrial haplotypes from mitochondrial genes (GenBank accession number EF036215-EF036466, data not shown) and one unique diagnostic haplotype from the AUNL. No heterozygotes were found when AUNL was analyzed, suggesting no gene flow between B. cinereus and B. mariae. B. mariae differs from other congeneric in molecular features; from B. tingitanus in one single polymorphism and from B. mettetali in two nucleotides in AUNL data (Fig. 4). At morphological level, B. mettetali has between 8 and 10 cloacal pores, are clearly smaller (around 145 mm), with heads shorter (around 5.6 mm), with more body annuli (128.8 as average) and more number of ventral segments (between 17.8-17.5 as average) than B. mariae. B. tingitanus have the same number of precloacal pores than B. mariae (6), but is also smaller (between 152-157 mm as mean value) and with heads shorter (around 6 mm), B. tingitanus also have more body annuli than B. mariae ( between 124 and 125 as average).

Note: the diagnosis of this species is quite vague; it remains unclear whether this is a valid species. 
EtymologyNamed in honor of Maria Rosario Tortajada Aguilar E.M.A.´s grandmother, who died in tragic accident years ago, for her constant support. 
  • Albert, Eva M. and Adrián Fernández 2009. Evidence of cryptic speciation in a fossorial reptile: description of a new species of Blanus (Squamata: Amphisbaenia: Blanidae) from the Iberian Peninsula. Zootaxa 2234: 56-68 - get paper here
  • GARCÍA-DÍEZ, TERESA; JOSÉ E. GONZÁLEZ-FERNÁNDEZ 2013. The reptile type specimens preserved in the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC) of Madrid, Spain. Zootaxa 3619 (1): 046–058 - get paper here
  • Kwet, Axel & Benny Trapp 2014. Liste der Reptilien Europas. Draco 15 (60): 72-79 - get paper here
  • Perez, C. & K. Bensusan 2005. A Guide to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society, Gibraltar, 28 pp.
  • Sampaio, Filipa L.; D. James Harris, Ana Perera and Daniele Salvi 2014. Phylogenetic and diversity patterns of Blanus worm lizards (Squamata: Amphisbaenia): insights from mitochondrial and nuclear gene genealogies and species tree. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, DOI: 10.1111/jzs.12075 - get paper here
  • Schlüter, U. 2012. The Rock. Die Herpetofauna Gibraltars. Reptilia (Münster) 17 (94): 93-101 - get paper here
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