Mesalina adrarensis PIZZIGALLI, CROCHET, GENIEZ, MARTÍNEZ-FREIRIA, VELO-ANTÓN & BRITO, 2021
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|Higher Taxa||Lacertidae, Eremiadinae, Sauria, Lacertoidea, Squamata (lizards)|
|Synonym||Mesalina adrarensis PIZZIGALLI, CROCHET, GENIEZ, MARTÍNEZ-FREIRIA, VELO-ANTÓN & BRITO 2021|
Type locality. Mauritania, 440 m south-west of the Guelta Oumm el Habâl, 17.4 km east-southeast of F'derick. 22.60636°N/−12.55743°W/372 m a.s.l.
|Types||Holotype. MNHN-RA-2020.0017, adult female (Figure 7) (Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, in Paris, France). Collected in the Tiris Zemmour (Mauritania) by Philippe Geniez, Olivier Peyre, Pierre-André Crochet and José Carlos Brito on 7th April 2017.|
Paratypes. BEV.15163, adult female collected in the Adrar Atar, 44 km before Chinguetti coming from Atar (Mauritania, 20.5537°N/12.6916°W) by F. Martínez-Freiría, J.C. Brito, D.V. Gonçalves, J.C. Campos, Z. Boratyński, C.G. Vale, T.L. Silva, X. Santos, J.M. Pleguezuelos, M. Feriche and A.S. Sow on the 29th October 2011; BEV.15060, adult male, same locality, collected by J.C. Brito, Z. Boratyński, S. Lopes, J. Marques and F. Martínez-Freiría on the 12th September 2015; BEV.15061, adult female, BEV.15062, adult male, BEV.15063, adult male, BEV.16064, adult male, all collected in the Adrar Atar, Oumm Lekhterat (Mauritania, 21.1596°N/11.9362°W) by J.C. Brito, Z. Boratyński,S. Lopes, J. Marques and F. Martínez-Freiría on the 13th September 2015, all preserved in the BEV collection in Montpellier.
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis. A species of the M. olivieri complex characterized by the following combination of characters: (a) low number of eyelid scales (5–6); (b) with two clearly larger scales, like M. guttulata (several sub-equal scales or rarely 1–2 larger scales in the other species of the M. olivieri complex); (c) small black dots on the edge of the eyelids (mostly visible in dead animals preserved in ethanol); (d) more elongated snout with more prominent nostrils than the other species of the olivieri complex; (e) adult coloration in life (Figure 7) different from all other species of the complex (see Figure S5 and comparison below) (Pizzigalli et al. 2021).|
Coloration in life (adults). Dorsum coloration mostly brown, from sandy-brown to dark-brown or rufous-brown, with a dorsal pattern made of two central longitudinal lines of small whitish spots (usually partially edged with dark-brown or black) then two supra-dorsolateral longitudinal rows of black blotches edged externally by narrow dorsolateral fragmented whitish lines, sometimes nearly continuous, sometimes reduced to series of small elongated dots; the flanks show small pale spots partially edged by dark coloration, sometimes fusing in a near complete dark band; on the lower part of the flanks a more continuous longitudinal white line separates the dorsal and ventral parts of the body. The pattern from the center of the back fades on the anterior part of the dorsum, especially on the nape, then disappears on the head. Dorsal pattern more contrasted in females than in some males; in some males, this pattern is reduced to a series of whitish and dark-brown spots aligned along the body. The color of the head is similar to the body coloration with faintly spotted pileus and a dark line running though the sides of the head through the eye, bordered below by a pale line reaching to the eye. Forelimbs coloration uniformly brown, hind legs brownish with whitish ocelli. Uniformly brown tail with a median dark stripe, more or less visible, disappearing at the first third of its length, this median stripe is externally edged on each side by a light stripe resulting from the prolongation of each light dorsolateral stripe. Underparts of the head and the legs pinkish-beige, belly overall similar but paler on central belly, underparts of the tail whitish, sometimes yellowish especially in males. Juveniles present a pale background coloration, striped with wide and continuous pale and dark (sometimes white and pure black) bands along the body, then very much like M. pasteuri (this pattern is probably common to all juveniles of the M. olivieri species complex) (Pizzigalli et al. 2021).
Comparison. Mesalina adrarensis sp. nov. resembles (sometimes strongly) M. guttulata, possibly due to adaptation to similar environmental conditions. In comparison with M. guttulata, M. adrarensis sp. nov. has a browner background coloration and a less densely spotted dorsal pattern that often fades on the neck without exhibiting the remarkable pattern of irregularly arranged ocelli that characterizes M. guttulata. Contrary to M. guttulata, M. adrarensis sp. nov. has small light spots and dark marks organized in longitudinal lines. In both species, the eyelids are composed of 2 (rarely 1) large translucent scales, situated above 0 to 8 smaller ones; while in M. guttulata these scales are always edged with a continuous black stripe, in M. adrarensis sp. nov. this black coloration is mostly absent or made of spots along the edges of the scales. Compared with M. olivieri and M. simoni, M. adrarensis sp. nov. has more prominent nostrils, a longer snout, and more flattened head. Dorsal coloration in juveniles of all species of the M. olivieri species complex is characterized by continuous stripes. Meanwhile M. olivieri and M. pasteuri (but less frequent in M. simoni) maintain this striped coloration in their adult forms, these dorsal stripes in adults of M. adrarensis sp. nov. are fragmented. The eyelids of M. simoni and M. olivieri are made of 6–12 medium and small scales but no or (rarely) 1–2 clearly larger scales (cf. Figure 7i).
Adults of M. adrarensis sp. nov. can be easily distinguished from the sympatric M. pasteuri by the lack of obvious dorsal and dorsolateral stripes that characterize the adults of the latter species, and by the brownish coloration typical of M. adrarensis sp. nov. (M. pasteuri has a typical sand color in accordance with its sandy habitat; Figure S5) (Pizzigalli et al. 2021).
|Etymology||The species epithet “adrarensis” refers to the Adrar Atar region because the new species was first suspected when seeing specimens from this region.|
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