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Liolaemus gardeli VERRASTRO, MANEYRO, DA SILVA & FARIAS, 2017

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Higher TaxaLiolaemidae, Iguania, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymLiolaemus gardeli VERRASTRO, MANEYRO, DA SILVA & FARIAS 2017
Liolaemus gardeli — VILLAMIL et al. 2019 
DistributionUruguay (Tacuarembó)

Type locality: sand dunes in the Tacuarembó department (31°58'43''S, 55°31'18.7''W), Uruguay  
TypesHolotype: ZVC-R 6823, adult male collected by L. Verrastro, R. Maneyro, and G. Scaron on February 21, 2014. Paratypes. All specimens were collected in the same area and locality: ZVC-R 6824–6831, collected on February 21, 2014, by L. Verrastro, R. Maneyro, and G. Scaron; UFRGS 6630–6637 collected on March 27, 2013, by L. Verrastro and G. Scaron. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Liolaemus gardeli is a member of the wiegmannii group because it presents lorilabial scales smaller than the supralabials and narrow (longer than wider) supralabial scales. The mental scales are in contact with the sublabials. The infralabials are concave. Liolaemus gardeli differs from other Liolaemus spp. of the wiegmannii group by its large, blood-colored stain at the gular region in males that reaches the rostral, infralabial, and supralabial scales. There are red dots on the scales of the posterior region of the ear, the canthal scales, the superciliary, and the inner ciliary scales, features totally absent in other species of the L. wiegmanni group. The rostral scale is partially or slightly subdivided by the central postrostral. The scales of the temporal region are smooth, with a slight rugosity on the upper region; there are two large parietals that reach half of the interparietal. The species has a large mental scale. The pattern on the dorsal part of the body presents two mid-dorsal rows of quadrangular-shaped stains, with the darker area being larger than the lighter area, a feature absent in all other species of the L. wiegmanni group. In addition, L. gardeli is one of the smallest species in the L. wiegmannii group.
Liolaemus gardeli has nasal scales (in the shape of a drop) in a dorsal position, with the nostrils occupying half of the scale, and narrower at the anterior end; this differs from L. wiegmannii, which has laterally-directed nostrils, a nasal scale in dorsal position, and the nostril occupying half of the scale. It also differs from L. occipitalis, in which the nostril occupies most of the scale (Etheridge 2000); from L. cuyumhue, in which the nostril is dorsolaterally positioned and occupies less than half of the scale (Ávila et al. 2009); and, from L. azarai, in which the nostril is dorsolaterally positioned (Ávila 2003). Liolaemus gardeli has two rows of lorilabial scales between the subocular and supralabial regions; it differs from L. arambarensis, which has one row of lorilabial scales (Verrastro et al. 2003), L. cuyumhue, which has two to three rows (Ávila et al. 2009), and L. lutzae, which has only one row (Etheridge 2000). The head scales of L. gardeli are smooth, while the temporal scales are smooth and slightly rugose on the upper temporal region; in contrast, the temporal scales are keeled and/or rugose in L. wiegmannii (Fig. 8). The mental scale of L. gardeli is higher than in all other species of the L. wiegmannii group, and the posterior side, which is in contact with the postmental scales, ends at a single point. A frontal scale is present, similar to L. wiegmannii, but differing from L. occipitalis and L. lutzae, which do not have a frontal scale. The rostral scale of L. gardeli is large and slightly or partially subdivided by the central postrostral scale, which differs from all other species of the group; it also differs from L. occipitalis, which has two rows of postrostral scales. The dorsal scales of L. gardeli are imbricate and strongly keeled, resembling those of L. riojanus, L. scapularis, L. lutzae, L. azarai, L. occipitalis, L. arambarensis, and L. wiegmannii, but differing from other species of the group: L. multimaculatus, L. rabinoi, L. cuyumhue, and L. salinicola, which have smooth or slightly keeled dorsal scales. The lateral scales of L. gardeli resemble those of L. occipitalis, L. azarai, L. lutzae, and L. wiegmannii, presenting a common pattern that differentiates the dorsal from the ventral region (Etheridge 2000). 
CommentLiolaemus gardeli is poorly differentiated morphologically from the other lineages of the wiegmanni complex but genetically distinct (see Verrastro et al., 2017, Villamil et al. 2019).

Habitat: Liolaemus gardeli buries easily in the sand to escape predation, as do all other species of the L. wiegmannii group. We have observed some inactive individuals hidden under semi-dry cattle stools at the end of the day. From our in situ observations, this lizard species can easily escape by hiding in herbaceous vegetation, which is thick at the base of the bushes, but it also hides in large dens in dunes. These sand-dune dens seem to belong to armadillos (Dasypus sp.). Several individuals were observed escaping into these wide and open dens and then stood on hind legs, observing our movement. As soon as an observer approached, they often quickly fled deeply into the dens, but sometimes individuals remained at the burrow entrance. No burrow was observed that could have been constructed by this species, as occurs in L. occipitalis and L. lutzae, for example (Verrastro et al. 2017).

Diet: omnivorous, eating Formicidae, Araneae, Hemiptera, Diptera, Coleoptera, and plants (in three stomachs), including fruits of Cyperaceae, seeds of Poaceae (Cenchrus). Additionally, an unidentifiable fibrous material was found in one stomach. 
EtymologyThis new species is named after the famous Uruguayan tango singer, Carlos Gardel, who died in a plane crash in 1935. Gardel’s birthplace was widely disputed and claimed by Uruguay, France, and Argentina, but recent research has confirmed that Gardel is the illegitimate son of a Uruguayan farmer. According to historical data from the book, “Carlos Gardel –el silencio de Tacuarembó,” authored by Selva Ortiz (1994), Gardel was born in the Tacuarembó department (Uruguay), in the same region of the type locality of this newly described species. 
  • VERRASTRO, LAURA; RAÚL MANEYRO, CAROLINE M. DA SILVA, IRAIA FARIAS 2017. A new species of lizard of the L. wiegmannii group (Iguania: Liolaemidae) from the Uruguayan Savanna. Zootaxa 4294 (4): 443–461 - get paper here
  • Villamil, J., Avila, L.J., Morando, M., Sites, J.W. Jr., Leaché, A.D., Maneyro, R., Camargo, A. 2019. Coalescent-based species delimitation in the sand lizards of the Liolaemus wiegmannii complex (Squamata: Liolaemidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution (2019), doi: - get paper here
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