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Matobosaurus validus (SMITH, 1849)

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Higher TaxaGerrhosauridae (Gerrhosaurinae), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Common Giant Plated Lizard 
SynonymGerrhosaurus validus validus SMITH 1849
Gerrhosaurus vallidus SMITH 1849
Gerrhosaurus robustus PETERS 1854: 618
Gerrhosaurus robustus — GRAY 1864: 380
Gerrhosaurus ciprianii SCORTECCI 1930
Gerrhosaurus validus validus — LOVERIDGE 1942
Gerrhosaurus validus validus — FITZSIMONS 1943: 269
Gerrhosaurus validus validus — BOYCOTT 1992
Gerrhosaurus validus validus — AUERBACH 1987: 118
Gerrhosaurus vallidus vallidus — HARBIG 2003
Gerrhosaurus validus — PYRON & BURBRINK 2013
Matobosaurus validus — BATES et al. 2013
Matobosaurus validus — BATES et al. 2014: 230 
DistributionRepublic of South Africa, Swaziland, S Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia

Type locality: “Tette” [Mozambique] [Gerrhosaurus robustus PETERS 1854]  
TypesLectotype: ZMB 1144, designated by BAUER & GÜNTHER 1991 [Gerrhosaurus robustus PETERS 1854]
Holotype: MSNM (Milano) [ciprianii] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): The monophyly of Matobosaurus is established on the basis of a suite of nuclear and mitochondrial genetic characters (see above). These large, well-armoured lizards have the head and body depressed. Differentiated from the genera Broadleysaurus and Gerrhosaurus by higher numbers of ventral scale rows longitudinally (12–20 versus 8–10) and larger size (maximum total length: sex unknown 690 mm [28 mm SVL + 40 mm tail length], male 681 mm, female 87 mm; versus sex unknown 613 mm, male mm, female 18 mm)―although the tail is not particularly long, maximum SVL is distinctly greater than in the other taxa (285 mm compared to 245 mm in Broadleysaurus and 213 mm in Gerrrhosaurus); also distinguished from Broadleysaurus by its higher numbers of dorsal scale rows transversely (49–8 versus 31–38) and longitudinally (2–34 versus 14– 21), and usually higher numbers of femoral pores on each thigh (14–2 versus 8–17) (Loveridge 1942; FitzSimons 1943, 193; De Witte 193; Laurent 194, 1964; Broadley 1966; De Waal 1978; Jacobsen 1989). These lizards are largely rupicolous and often found in (sometimes large) colonies, compared to Broadleysaurus and Gerrrhosaurus which are mostly terrestrial and found singly or in small groups (Loveridge 1942; FitzSimons 1943; Mertens 19; Broadley 1966; Visser 1984a; Jacobsen 1989) [BATES et al. 2013]. 
CommentULBER (1999) states that the correct spelling should be “vallidus”, possibly in honour of the Swedish zoologist Sundevall.

Subspecies: Gerrhosaurus validus maltzahni DE GRYS, 1938 has been elevated to full species status.

Type species: Gerrhosaurus validus validus SMITH 1849 is the type species of the genus Matobosaurus BATES & TOLLEY 2013. 
EtymologyThe name valida is derived from the Latin word validus, meaning powerful or strong.

The genus name is a masculine name derived from the Ndebele word matobo meaning ‘bald heads’, i.e. smooth ‘whaleback dwalas’ formed when granite is forced to the surface, and the Latinised word saurus meaning lizard. The word matobo was the name given by Mzilikazi, founder of the Ndebele nation, to the Matobo (Matopo) Hills area in southern Zimbabwe, characterized by granite hills and wooded valleys, representing prime habitat for lizards in this genus (see Mertens 1955; Broadley 1966; Pienaar et al. 1983). 
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  • Bates, M.F.; Branch, W.R., Bauer, A.M.; Burger, M., Marais, J.; Alexander, G.J. & de Villliers, M.S. (eds.) 2014. Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, 512 pp.
  • BATES, MICHAEL F.; KRYSTAL A. TOLLEY, SHELLEY EDWARDS, ZOË DAVIDS, JESSICA M. DA SILVA, & WILLIAM R. BRANCH 2013. A molecular phylogeny of the African plated lizards, genus Gerrhosaurus Wiegmann, 1828 (Squamata: Gerrhosauridae), with the description of two new genera. Zootaxa 3750 (5): 465–493 - get paper here
  • Bauer, Aaron M.; Branch, William R. & Haacke, Wulf D. 1993. The herpetofauna of the Kamanjab area and adjacent Damaraland, Namibia. Madoqua (Windhoek) 18 (2): 117-145. - get paper here
  • Boycott, R.C. 1992. An Annotated Checklist of the Amphibians and Reptiles of Swaziland. The Conservation Trust of Swaziland - get paper here
  • Branch, William R. 1993. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers, 144 S.
  • Broadley, D. G. 1973. Addenda and corrigenda to “The reptiles and amphibians of Zambia”. The Puku, Occas. Pap. Dept. Wild. Fish. Natl. Parks Zambia No. 7: 93-95
  • Broadley, D.G. 1962. On some reptile collections from the North-Western and North-Eastern Districts of Southern Rhodesia 1958-1961, with descriptions of four new lizards. Occ. Pap. Nat. Mus. South. Rhodesia 26 (B): 787-843
  • Buruwate, T. C., & Lloyd-Jones, D. J. 2024. Amphibian and Reptile Diversity of Niassa Special Reserve, Northern Mozambique. Journal of East African Natural History, 113(1), 1-18 - get paper here
  • CONRADIE, W., ENGELBRECHT, H., HERREL, A., MEASEY, G.J., NIELSEN, S.V., V ANHOOYDONCK, B., & TOLLEY, K.A. 2011. Reptile survey of Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve, Limpopo Province - South Africa. African Herp News (55): 6-12 - get paper here
  • FitzSimons, V.F. 1943. The lizards of South Africa. Transvaal Museum Memoir No.1 (Pretoria), 528 pp.
  • Fitzsimons,V.F.M. 1938. Transvaal Museum Expedition to South-West Africa and Little Namaqualand, May to August 1937 - Reptiles and Amphibians. Annals Transvaal Mus. 19 (2): 153-209 - get paper here
  • Gray, J. E. 1864. Notes on some new lizards from south—eastern Africa, with the descriptions of several new species. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (3) 14: 380-384 - get paper here
  • Grys, P. de 1938. Gerrhosaurus maltzahni spec. nov. Zool. Anz. 124 (3/4): 58-60
  • Harbig, P. 2003. Zur Terrarienhaltung und Nachzucht der Felsenschildechse Gerrhosaurus vallidus vallidus SMITH 1849. Sauria 25 (1): 29-35 - get paper here
  • Kirk, John 1865. A letter was read from Dr. John Kirk, Corresponding Member, containing the following reply to the observations of Dr. W. Peters, Foreign Member, in the 'Society's Proceedings', 1864, p. 377, relating to Gerrhosaurus robustus. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1865: 227-228. - get paper here
  • Köhler, G. 1990. Pflege und Nachzucht der Felsenschildechse Gerrhosaurus validus (SMITH 1849). Sauria 12 (4): 27-29 - get paper here
  • Perry, Gad 2022. The Black Mambas of the Balule Nature Reserve and Other Notes on the Limpopo Region of Southern Africa. REPTILES & AMPHIBIANS 29: 17–24
  • Peters,W.C.H. 1854. Diagnosen neuer Batrachier, welche zusammen mit der früher (24. Juli und 17. August) gegebenen Übersicht der Schlangen und Eidechsen mitgetheilt werden. Ber. Bekanntmach. Geeignet. Verhandl. Königl.-Preuss. Akad. Wiss. Berlin 1854: 614-628
  • Pietersen, Darren, Verburgt, Luke & Davies, John 2021. Snakes and other reptiles of Zambia and Malawi. Struik Nature / Penguin Random House South Africa, 376 pp., ISBN 9781775847373
  • Rese, Rolf 1981. Schildechsen (Gerrhosaurus) - Haltung und Zucht. Sauria 3 (3): 29-32 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, F. 2008. Die Felsen-Schildechse (Gerrhosaurus vallidus). Reptilia (Münster) 13 (69): 37-43 - get paper here
  • Scortecci, G. 1930. Nuove Specie di Rettili ed Anfibi del Mozambico e della Somalia Italiana. Atti Soc. ital. Sci. nat 69 (3-4): 319-321 - get paper here
  • Scortecci, Giuseppe 1934. Gerrhosaurus ciprianii del Mozambique. An. Fac. Ciênc. (Porto), 19 (1): 51-54.
  • Smith, A. 1849. Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa. 3 (Reptiles). Smith, Elder, and Co., London [facsimile published by Winchester Press, Johannesburg, 1977] - get paper here
  • Switak, Karl H. 1979. Die Felsen-Schildeidechse Gerrhosaurus v. validus. Aquarien-Magazin (Stuttgart), 13 (3): 144-145.
  • Tomsett, G. A. 1990. Giant plated lizard (Gerrhosaurus validus). Tharu, 4 (1): 19.
  • Ulber, Thomas 1999. Sir Andrew Smith's "Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa" An annotated table of contents for the "Reptilia" volume. Smithsonian Herp. Inf. Serv. (120): 1-17 - get paper here
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