Mesalina arnoldi SINDACO, SIMÓ-RIUDALBAS, SACCHI & CARRANZA, 2018
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|Higher Taxa||Lacertidae, Eremiadinae, Sauria, Lacertoidea, Squamata (lizards)|
|Synonym||Mesalina arnoldi SINDACO, SIMÓ-RIUDALBAS, SACCHI & CARRANZA 2018|
Mesalina sp. A — ARNOLD 1986: 427
Mesalina sp. A — SCHÄTTI & GASPERETTI 1994: 371
Mesalina guttulata — SINDACO & JEREMCENKO 2008: 262 (part.)
Type locality: Yemen, Amran Governatorate, plateau between Zakatin village (Hababah) to Kawkaban (Haraz Mt.) (about 15.51°N, 43.86°E WGS84), 2,600-2,800 m elevation.
|Types||Holotype: MCCI R890, Adult female, R. Sindaco and C. Sindaco leg., 7 February 1998. Paratype. Adult male MZUF-28670, Yemen, Al Mahwit Governatorate, Kawkaban (about 15.50°N, 43.90°E WGS84), M. Poggesi, M. Borri, M. Manetti and M. Sammicheli leg., 31 January 1984.|
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis. A relatively large-sized Mesalina characterized by the following combination of morphological characters: (1) well-developed occipital scale in contact with the interparietal (with rare exceptions) (Fig. 6E); (2) lower eyelid with a window made of up two large scales (in 57% of examined specimens) or fragmented into smaller scales (43%) (Fig. 6D), often without black edges (67%); (3) curved collar (Fig. 6F); (4) four upper labials in front of the subocular in 89% of the samples and five in 11% of the samples (Fig. 6D); (5) ventral plates in 10 (very rarely 8) straight longitudinal rows, the outermost much smaller (Fig. 6B); (6) scales on the upper surface of the tibia keeled (Fig. 6A); (7) lamellae under 4th toe, 19–26 (median = 22); (8) dorsal pattern usually very marked, background color brown-greyish, with many complete ocelli (i.e. a white spot completely surrounded by a black ring) or near so, ordered in irregular longitudinal and transverse rows. Dorsolateral and light stripes are usually evident, often interrupted; some specimens are clearly striped, while in others these lines are inconspicuous, only rarely absent (Fig. 6A)|
There are no obvious morphological characters separating M. arnoldi sp. nov. from M. guttulata, M. bahaeldini and M. austroarabica sp. nov. The statistical analyses (see Results above) show significant differences, with M. arnoldi sp. nov. having more gulars (males), more dorsals at midbody (males), more femoral pores (males and females) than M. guttulata. Moreover, M. arnoldi sp. nov. has smaller %HD (males), smaller %4th toe length (males), smaller toe-index (males), lesser value of Lamellae percSVL (males). Mesalina arnoldi sp. nov. shows significant differences from M. bahaeldini in having more gulars (males and females), more femoral pores (males) and more supralabials (females). Differences between M. arnoldi sp. nov. and M. austroarabica sp. nov. are discussed in the description of the latter species (see above).
|Comment||Habitat: highlands of southwestern Saudi Arabia and Western Yemen. The holotype was collected in a stony plateau with basaltic rocks and scarce vegetation, at an altitude of 2,600-2,800 m a.s.l. The paratype was collected in the same area, between 1,950 and 2,300 m a.s.l. According to Schätti & Gasperetti (1994) this species is found as low as 1,300 m a.s.l.|
Distribution: see map in Sidnaco et al. 2018: 515 (Fig. 1).
|Etymology||The species epithet “arnoldi” is a genitive Latin noun to honor the British herpetologist Dr E. Nicholas Arnold (1940-) for his life-long dedication and contribution to Arabian herpetology, including the recognition of this taxon as a distinct species that he provisionally referred to as Mesalina sp. A in Arnold (1986a).|
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