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Higher TaxaLiolaemidae, Iguania, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
DistributionArgentina (Salta)

Type locality: Argentina, Salta, Rosario de Lerma, Between San Bernardo de las Zorras and El Rosal (24°24´09.10´´0S; 65°46´36.50´´W) 3301 m elevation.  
TypesHolotype: IBIGEO 5665, adult male, collected by Hibbard T., Lobo F., Quipildor M., Slodki D. on 7 April 2017.
Paratypes: (n=75): IBIGEO 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Liolaemus messii sp. nov. is a member of the L. ornatus group (sensu Abdala, 2005, 2007), due to high number of precloacal pores in females (Abdala, 2005). Within the L. ornatus group, L. messii sp. nov.can be differentiated from other species by a set of characters.
Liolaemus messii sp. nov. specimens can be differentiated from L. albiceps and L. irregularis for having a smaller snount-vent length (Max SVL=71.71 mm vs. 83.62 mm and 83.52 mm respectively). At the same time, L. messii has larger snout-vent length than L. calchaqui and L. crepuscularis (Max SVL= 71.71 mm vs. 48.22 mm and 53.83 mm, respectively). Liolaemus messii can also be differentiated from L. calchaqui for having females with a larger number of precloacal pores (5–9 vs. 1–3 respectively). The tail length of L. messii sp. nov. (72.64–98.29 mm) is smaller the tail length of L. irregularis (98.31–144.38 mm). The trunk length of L. messii (22.90–33.07 mm) is smaller than the one of L. irregularis (34.60–43.73 mm). The foot length of L. messii (12.49–18.10 mm) is smaller than that of L. albiceps (18.30–24.07 mm) and L. irregularis (18.15–24.78 mm). The humerus width of L. messii sp. nov. (1.49–3.05 mm) is smaller than that of L. irregularis (3.31–4.30 mm). The length of the hand in L. messii sp. nov. (7.45–10.74 mm) is smaller than that of L. irregularis (10.80–13.65 mm).
The hemipenes of Liolaemus messi sp. nov. differ from others species of the L. ornatus group in the following characteristics: in the asulcate face, L. crepuscularis, L. irregularis and L. ornatus have 3 continuous flounces while L. albiceps and L. lavillai present between 3 and 5; L. messi sp. nov. presents 2 or 3. L. albiceps, L irregularis, L. lavillai, L. ornatus, and L. messii present between 4 and 6 discontinuous flounces, while L. crepuscularis present 9. The hump in L. albiceps, L. lavillai and L. messi sp. nov. is rounded while in L. crepuscularis, L. irregularis and L. ornatus it is up pronounced. L. irregularis has the smallest hemipenis corrected to the SVL (5 to 6 % to the SVL), while L. crepuscularis, L. lavillai, L. ornatus, and L. messii present longer hemipenes corrected to SVL (8 to 10 % to the SVL) (Ruiz et al. 2021).

Comparisons: Regarding coloration, Liolaemus messii sp. nov. can be differentiated from L. lavillai for presenting males with a reticulated melanic pattern on the head, dark pigmentation on the neck, and the presence of a vertebral line with transversal melanic stripes present in some individuals. Also, they present dorsolateral reddish bands and a yellowish coloration of the cloaca, which set it apart from other members of the group. L. messii sp. nov. can be differentiated from L. crepuscularis by its dorsal background coloration, the presence of spots forming a dorsal pattern similar to a lattice, the absence of light blue or white scales in the dorsolateral bands and the yellowish coloration of the cloaca. Liolaemus messii sp. nov. can be differentiated from L. calchaqui by its bigger spots in the dorsal region, reddish dorsolateral bands and the yellowish abdominal and cloacal regions. It can be distinguished from L. albiceps by the presence of spots on the head, the reticulate dorsal pattern of melanic stripes, reddish or yellowish coloration in the dorsal region, the presence of spots in the dorsal tail region, the reticulate throat pattern, the yellowish or grey coloration of the abdominal region and the yellowish coloration of the cloacal region. It can be differentiated from L. irregularis (Fig. 7) by the presence of a defined pattern on its head, with light background coloration, besides the reticulate pattern, the presence of yellowish and reddish coloration, the dorsal spots of the tail and the absence of irregular spots in the throat. Liolaemus messii can be distinguished from L. ornatus by the absence of white scales on the head, the presence of dark transversal stripes in the dorsal region, and the absence of light blue scales on the sides of the body and tail (Ruiz et al. 2021).

Color in life: Sexual dichromatism evident. In males, head colour beige to ochre with melanic lattice. In addition, some males have reddish or yellow dorsolateral lines. In females, head light brown. In males, dorsal background coloration bone to light brown, with melanic lattice and some with vertebral line. In females, dorsal background coloration light brown, with variation of patterns ranging from yellow dorsolateral lines to small dark spots. In males, fore and hind limbs bone to ochre, with a melanic lattice. In females, fore and hind limbs light brown, some with dark spots. Ventrally, limbs are grey. Gular region of males is grey with a melanic reticulate. In females, the gular region is grey or yellowish. Some females also have a slightly less evident brown reticulated pattern. In both, the abdominal region is yellowish or grey, the males also have dark scales. Cloacal region grey in females and yellowish in males. The tail in males is grey, light brown or yellowish with stripes or melanic spots. In females, the tail is light brown with melanic lines or dots. Ventrally, the tail is grey in both sexes (Ruiz et al. 2021). 
CommentDiet: Liolaemus messii is omnivorous (Ruiz et al. 2021).

Habitat: Liolaemus messii sp. nov. inhabits the region of San Bernardo de las Zorras, Rosario de Lerma department, province of Salta. This area belongs to the phytogeographical Prepuna region (Cabrera, 1976), characterized by a rough relief caused by an intense metereorization under an arid, cold and windy climate. Regarding the region’s vegetation, it could be defined as an arbustive and herbaceous steppe (Cabrera, 1976) formed mainly by Bulnesia Schickendazii, Tunilla soehrensii and Maihueniopsis boliviana.

Sympatry: L. yanalcu, Tachymenis peruviana (a confirmed predator of L. messii), Bothrops ammodytoides (likely predator) (Ruiz et al. 2021). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet messii is in honor of Lionel Andrés Messi, a recognized Argentinean soccer player consecrated worldwide but above all a world example of humility and chivalry. Frequently considered as the best player in the world in actuality and one of the best of all time, he is the only player in history who has won, among other distinctions, six times the Golden Ball (two Golden Balls and four FIFA Golden Balls), the first four consecutively, in addition to receiving six Golden Boots, a FIFA World Player and a The Best FIFA. In 2020, he became the first player to receive a Laureus award. 
  • Abdala, C.S. 2005. Sistemática y filogenia del grupo de L. boulengeri (Iguania: Liolaemidae, Liolaemus) en base a caracteres morfológicos y moleculares. PhD thesis. Universidad Nacional de Tucumán. 277 pp.
  • Abdala, C.S. 2007. Phylogeny of the boulengeri group (Iguania: Liolaemidae, Liolaemus) based on morphological and molecular characters. Zootaxa 1538: 1-84 - get paper here
  • Ruiz, S., Quipildor, M., Ruiz-Monachesi, M. R., Escalante, L., Valdecantos, S., & Lobo, F. 2021. Diversification and geological history of the Liolaemus ornatus group (Squamata: Iguania) of Argentina including the recognition of a new species. Zoologischer Anzeiger - get paper here
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