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Liolaemus robertmertensi HELLMICH, 1964

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Higher TaxaLiolaemidae, Iguania, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Robert's Tree Iguana 
SynonymLiolaemus robertmertensi HELLMICH 1964
Liolaemus robertmertensi — SCHULTE et al. 2000
Liolaemus robertmertensi — AVILA et al. 2021
Liolaemus robertmertensi — FERNÁNDEZ et al. 2021 
DistributionArgentina (Catamarca, La Rioja [HR 30: 116])

Type locality: Gebirge in der Umgebung von Belen, Catamarca, Argentina  
TypesHolotype: ZSM 152/1926, male, collected by V. Weiser, 28.12.1926. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Liolaemus robertmertensi is a mediumsized lizard (max SVL 56.2 mm) belonging to the L. robertmertensi group. Tables 1 and 2 show differences between L. robertmertensi and phylogenetically close species. Head height is less in L. robertmertensi than in L. sanjuanensis (Mean= 5.33; SD= 0.22 vs Mean= 5.94; SD= 0.17). Foot length is longer in L. robertmertensi (Mean= 5.33; SD= 0.22) than in L. gracilis (Mean= 5.24; SD= 0.14), but less than in L. sanjuanensis (Mean= 15.33; SD= 0.26). The number of scales around mid-body is lower in L. robertmertensi (Mean= 33.08; SD= 0.5) than in L. gracilis (Mean= 40.15; SD= 0.52), L. sanjuanensis (Mean= 49.93; SD= 0.62), and L. saxatilis (Mean= 38.22; SD= 0.87). Number of dorsal scales lower in L. robertmertensi (Mean= 40.58; SD= 0.51) than in L. sanjuanensis (Mean= 51; SD= 1.16). Number of supercilliaries in L. robertmertensi (Mean= 6.5; SD= 0.19) is greater than in L. sanjuanensis (Mean= 5.62; SD= 0.15), but lower than in L. saxatilis (Mean= 7.32; SD= 0.1). Number of neck scales is lower in L. robertmertensi (Mean= 17.58; SD= 0.67) than in L. gracilis (Mean= 23.47; SD= 0.3), L. sanjuanensis (Mean= 33.81; SD= 1.13), and L. saxatilis (Mean= 21.84; SD= 0.41). Number of lorilabials is lower in L. robertmertensi (Mean= 2.75; SD= 0.18), than in L. sanjuanensis (Mean= 3.56; SD= 0.58), and L. saxatilis (Mean= 3.5; SD= 0.17). Number of supralabials in L. robertmertensi (Mean= 6.33; SD= 0.18), is greater than in L. gracilis (Mean= 5.31; SD= 0.11), and L. saxatilis (Mean= 5.22; SD= 0.13). Number of ventral scales in L. robertmertensi (Mean= 69.28; SD= 1.08), is lower than in L. sanjuanensis (Mean= 76.06; SD= 1.27) and L. saxatilis (Mean= 73.68; SD= 1.23). Number of lamellae on first toe in L. robertmertensi (Mean= 10.08; SD= 0.19), is lower than in L. gracilis (Mean= 11.42; SD= 0.2), but greater than in L. saxatilis (Mean= 8.63; SD= 0.1). Number of lamellae on third toe in L. robertmertensi (Mean= 17.33; SD= 0.25) is lower than in L. gracilis (Mean= 20.1; SD= 0.2). Also, nasals contact rostral in L. robertmertensi, whereas in L. balerion, L. exploratorum, L. sanjuanensis, L. saxatilis, L. vhagar, and L. yanalcu there is no contact. Subocular scale is whitish, lighter than loreal region, in L. robertmertensi, differing from L. gracilis, L. vhagar, L. meraxes, L. incaicus, L. paulinae, L. puna, L. pyriphlogos and L. yanalcu, where subocular scale is same color as loreal region. The dorsal surface of the head is smooth in L. robertmertensi, whereas in L. exploratorum and L. pagaburoi and markedly rugose in L. bitaeniatus, L. lemniscatus, L. saxatilis, L. tacnae, and L. variegatus it is somewhat rough. Dorsal scales are lanceolate in L. robertmertensi, being rhomboidal in L. bitaeniatus and L. variegatus. Scales of dorsum has a well-developed mucron, in L. robertmertensi, differing from L. tandiliensis, L. alticolor, L. chavin, L. pachacutec, L. paulinae, and L. tacnae (without mucron), L. alticolor, L. chavin, L. pachacutec, L. paulinae, and L. tacnae, L. vhagar L. yalguaraz (weakly-developed mucron). Temporal scales are slightly keeled in L. robertmertensi, being smooth in L. gracilis, L. balerion, L. bibronii, L. paulinae, L. pachacutec, L. puna, L. tacnae, and L. walkeri; and markedly keeled in L. alticolor, L. aparicioi, L. bitaeniatus, L. cyaneinotatus, L. lemniscatus, L. meraxes, L. sanjuanensis, L. saxatilis, and L. variegatus. The scales of the neck of L. robertmertensi present keels, while in L. gracilis and L. vhagar they are smooth. The females of Liolaemus robertmertensi do not present precloacal pores, while the females of L. aparicioi, L. bitaeniatus, L. incaicus, L. ramirezae, L. variegatus and L. yanalcu exhibit precloacal pores. Specimens of L. alticolor, L. aparicioi, L. chaltin, L. pyriphlogos, L. puna, L. chavin, L. pachacutec and some specimens of L. wari have a black line surrounding the interparietal scale, while this line is absent in L. robertmertensi. The males of Liolaemus robertmertensi present paravertebral spots (rectangular, parallel to the axis of the body forming a continuous line), while those are absent in L. alticolor, L. chungara, L. fuscus, L. gracilis, L. chaltin, most of males of L. puna and L. walkeri. Presence of dorsolateral stripes in L. robertmertensi differentiates this species from L. tacnae and L. yanalcu. Vertebral line is absent in L. robertmertensi, differing from L. gracilis (evident and segmented) and from L. tandiliensis (evident in some specimens), L. alticolor, L. aparicioi, L. balerion, L. bibronii, L. chavin, L. curicencis, L. cyaneinotatus, L. gracilis, males of L. incaicus, L. pachacutec, females of L. puna, L. pyriphlogos, L. sanjuanensis, L. tacnae, L. variegatus, L. walkeri, and L. wari, where vertebral line is evident. Throat is immaculate in L. robertmertensi, showing spots in L. alticolor, L. chungara, L. pagaburoi, L. puna, L. pyriphlogos, L. variegatus, L. walkeri, and L. yalguaraz. Males of L. chavin, L. pachacutec, L. wari, and L. walkeri exhibit partial or total ventral melanism, which is absent in L. robertmertensi (Fernández et al. 2021). 
EtymologyNamed after Robert Mertens (1894-1975), Russian-born herpetologist who worked most of his life at the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, Germany. 
  • AVILA, LUCIANO JAVIER; LORENA ELIZABETH MARTINEZ & MARIANA MORANDO 2013. Checklist of lizards and amphisbaenians of Argentina: an update. Zootaxa 3616 (3): 201–238 - get paper here
  • Avila, Luciano Javier; Martín Miguel Femenías, Cristian Hernán Fulvio Pérez, Mariana Morando 2021. Nuevas especies de Liolaemus para la herpetofauna de la provincia de La Rioja, Argentina. Cuadernos de Herpetología 35 (S1): 223-228
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Fernández, M. G.; Cristian S. Abdala, Mario R. Ruiz -Monachesi, Romina V. Semham, A. Sebastián<br />Quinteros 2021. Redescription of Liolaemus robertmertensi, Hellmich 1964 (Iguania: Liolaemidae) with description of a new species. Cuadernos de Herpetología 35 (S1): 65-78 - get paper here
  • Hellmich,W. 1964. Über eine neue Liolaemus-Art aus den Bergen von Catamarca, Argentinien. Senckenbergiana biologica 45: 505-507
  • QUINTEROS, ANDRÉS SEBASTIÁN 2013. A morphology-based phylogeny of the Liolaemus alticolor–bibronii group (Iguania: Liolaemidae). Zootaxa 3670: 1-32 - 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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