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Liolaemus meraxes QUINTEROS, RUIZ-MONACHESI & ABDALA, 2019

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Higher TaxaLiolaemidae, Iguania, Sauria, Squamata (lizards) 
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymLiolaemus meraxes QUINTEROS, RUIZ-MONACHESI & ABDALA 2019
Liolaemus bibronii — SCHULTE et al. 2000
Liolaemus bironii 8 — MORANDO et al. 2007
Liolaemus sp. 10 — PORTELLI & QUINTEROS 2018
Liolaemus sp. from Malargüe — QUINTEROS et al. 2019 
DistributionArgentina (Mendoza)

Type locality: Bardas Blancas. Malargüe, Mendoza Province. 35°45’04,0” S; 69°34’49,0” W  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: FML 7207. Male. Paratypes: FML 7202–06. 7208–13. Eight females and two males. Same data as the Holotype. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Liolaemus meraxes is a small, slender Liolaemus (Max SVL 53.14mm) that belongs to the L. alticolor–bibronii group, because it shares a set of character states as defined by Quinteros (2012, 2013) and Quinteros et al. (2014). Liolaemus meraxes was previously identified as a population of L. bibronii, but it has a combination of characters that allow us distinguish it from L. bibronii and from all the other members of the L. alticolor–bibronii group.
The number of scales between canthal and nasal is two in L. meraxes, being one in L. bibronii. The number of scales between frontal and rostral in L. meraxes is 6–7, being lower in L. bibronii (5). Number of supercilliaries is higher in L. meraxes (average) than in L. bibronii (average). Liolaemus meraxes has enlarged scales on the anterior margin of the auditory meatus; these scales are absent in L. bibronii. The number of scales of circumorbital semicircles is higher in L. meraxes (average) than in L. bibronii (average). Subocular scale in L. bibronii is white (lighter than loreal region), being of the same colour as the loreal region in L. meraxes. Paravertebral spots are rounded in L. bibronii, whereas in L. meraxes these spots are merged forming a longitudinal stripe. In L. bibronii there is a black line surrounding the interparietal that projects forward to the frontonasals; this line is absent in L. meraxes.
Liolaemus meraxes occurs geographically closely to L. yalguaraz, but L. yalguaraz has the upper temporal scales weakly keeled, which are smooth in L. meraxes. The number of temporal scales is higher in L. yalguaraz (8–9) than in L. meraxes (7). The dorsal scales of L. yalguaraz exhibit a tiny mucron, whereas in L. meraxes the dorsal scales have a large mucron. The subocular scale is of the same colour as the loreal region in L. meraxes, being white (lighter than loreal region) in L. yalguaraz. Specimens of L. yalguaraz (SVL mean = 55.8) are larger than specimens of L. meraxes (SVL mean = 47.8). Also, the colour pattern of L. meraxes distinguishes it from L. yalguaraz. The dorsal colour is golden-reddish in Liolaemus yalguaraz and brown-greyish in L. meraxes. Paravertebral spots in L. meraxes are merged forming an evident continuous line, whereas in L. yalguaraz, paravertebral spots are rectangular and faded in some specimen. The vertebral field is narrower in L. meraxes (2.9 mm) than in L. yalguaraz (4.6 mm).
Liolaemus meraxes can be distinguished from L. balerion and L. sp. from Comallo by the following characters: the subocular is white (lighter than loreal region) in L. balerion, being of the same same colour as the loreal region in L. meraxes. The paravertebral spots are linear in L. balerion, whereas in L. meraxes they are merged, forming a longitudinal stripe. Dorsolateral stripes in L. meraxes are bordered with a black line, whereas in L. balerion, this black line is absent. In L. balerion, 60% of specimens show contact between the fourth supralabial and subocular scales, whereas in L. meraxes, the fourth supralabial never contacts the subocular. Snout–vent length is larger in L. balerion than in L. meraxes. The lengths of the second and third toes are larger in L. balerion than in L. meraxes, whereas the length of the fourth toe is larger in L. sp. from Malargüe. The head is shorter in L. bibronii than in L. meraxes. The head of L. balerion is wider than the head of L. meraxes. The number of neck and gular scales is higher in L. balerion than in L. meraxes. The number of infradigital lamellae on second finger is higher in L. balerion than in L. meraxes. The number of infradigital lamellae on first, second, third and fourth toes is higher in L. balerion than in L. meraxes. The number of temporal scales in L. meraxes (average) is lower than in L. meraxes (average). The subocular scale is white (lighter than loreal region) in L. sp from Comallo, being of the same colour as the loreal region in L. meraxes. Paravertebral spots in L. meraxes are merged forming a longitudinal stripe, whereas in L. sp from Comallo, these spots are irregularly shaped and never merged. Dorsolateral stripes in L. meraxes are bordered by a black line, in L. sp. from Comallo dorsolateral stripes lack the black border. In the dorsum of the head of specimens of L. sp. from Comallo, there is a black line surrounding the interparietal scale, but this line is absent in L. meraxes. Snout–vent length is larger in L. sp. from Comallo than in L. meraxes. The fifth finger is longer in L. meraxes than in L. sp. from Comallo. The head is longer in L. meraxes than in L. sp. from Comallo, but wider in L. sp. from Comallo than in L. meraxes. The tibia of L. meraxes is longer than in L. sp. from Comallo. The numbers of neck and gular scales are smaller in L. meraxes than in L. sp. from Comallo. The number of infradigital lamellae on the second finger is larger in L. sp. from Comallo than in L. meraxes.
The presence of a vertebral line distinguishes L. meraxes from L. abdalai, L. bitaeniatus, L. exploratorum, L. fuscus, L. incaicus, L. lemniscatus, L. sanjuanensis and L. saxatilis. Males of L. chavin, L. pachacutec, L. wari and L. walkeri have a partial or total ventral melanism, absent in L. meraxes. Dorsal scales of L. meraxes have a mucron, which is absent in L. alticolor, L. chavin, L. pachacutec, L. paulinae, L. tacnae and L. tandiliensis. Temporal scales of L. meraxes are smooth, which distinguishes it from L. abdalai, L. alticolor, L. chaltin, L. chungara, L. curicensis, L. exploratorum, L. fuscus, L. incaicus, L. pagaburoi, L. pyriphlogos, L. ramirezae, L. tandiliensis L. variegatus and L. yanalcu (weakly keeled), and from L. aparicioi, L. bitaeniatus, L. cyaneinotatus, L. lemniscatus, L. sanjuanensis and L. saxatilis (markedly keeled). Neck scales of L. meraxes are laminar and smooth, differing from L. alticolor and L. yanalcu (laminar and weakly keeled), from L. abdalai, L. aparicioi, L. bitaeniatus, L. chaltin, L. curicensis L. incaicus, L. pagaburoi, L. paulinae, L. puna, L. pyriphlogos, L. ramirezae and L. variegatus (some scales keeled), L. cyaneinotatus, L. fuscus, L. lemniscatus, L. sanjuanensis, L. saxatilis and L. tandiliensis (keeled neck scales) and from L. chungara (both granular and laminar scales). The number of neck scales of L. meraxes (26–32) is lower than in L. exploratorum (34–41). The surface of the head is smooth in L. meraxes, whereas it is slightly rugose in L. exploratorum and rugose in L. bitaeniatus, L. lemniscatus and L. saxatilis. Liolaemus meraxes shows paravertebral spots, but they are absent in L. fuscus and L. gracilis.
 
Comment 
EtymologyIn George R. R. Martin’s epic A song of ice and fire, Meraxes, is one of the three mighty dragons who helped to conquer Westeros. It was mounted by Rhaenys. 
References
  • Morando, Mariana; Luciano J. Avila, Cameron R. Turner and Jack W. Sites Jr. 2007. Molecular evidence for a species complex in the patagonian lizard Liolaemus bibronii and phylogeography of the closely related Liolaemus gracilis (Squamata: Liolaemini). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 43 (3): 952-973 - get paper here
  • Portelli SN, Quinteros AS. 2018. Phylogeny, time divergence, and historical biogeography of the South American Liolaemus alticolor–bibronii group (Iguania: Liolaemidae). PeerJ 6: e4404
  • Quinteros, A S; M R Ruiz-Monachesi, C S Abdala 2019. Solving the Liolaemus bibronii puzzle, an integrative taxonomy approach: redescription of L. bibronii and description of three new species (Iguania: Liolaemidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society zlz113 - get paper here
  • SCHULTE II, JAMES A.; J. ROBERT MACEY, ROBERT E. ESPINOZA AND ALLAN LARSON 2000. Phylogenetic relationships in the iguanid lizard genus Liolaemus: multiple origins of viviparous reproduction and evidence for recurring Andean vicariance and dispersal. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 69: 75–102 - get paper here
 
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