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Mesalina olivieri (AUDOUIN, 1829)

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Higher TaxaLacertidae, Eremiadinae, Sauria, Lacertoidea, Squamata (lizards)
SubspeciesMesalina olivieri olivieri (AUDOUIN 1829)
Mesalina olivieri schmidtii (HAAS 1951) 
Common NamesE: Olivier's Sand Lizard
G: (Oliviers) Wüstenrenner 
SynonymLacerta olivieri AUDOUIN 1829: 122, 175
Eremias guichenoti DOUMERGUE 1901
Mesalina olivieri susana (BOULENGER 1918)
Mesalina olivieri latasti (BOULENGER, 1918)
Eremias guttulata oliveri — BOULENGER 1921
Eremias guttulata oliveri — PARKER 1942: 60
Eremias olivieri — DEKEYSER & VILLIERS 1956
Eremias guttulata oliveri — BONS 1959
Eremias olivieri olivieri — PAPENFUSS 1969: 296
Mesalina olivieri — SZCZERBAK 1975
Mesalina guttulata susana — SZCZERBAK 1989
Mesalina olivieri latasti — SZCZERBAK 1989
Mesalina olivieri — SCHLEICH, KÄSTLE & KABISCH 1996: 420
Mesalina olivieri — TRAPE, CHIRIO & TRAPE 2012
Mesalina olivieri — MEIRI et al. 2019

Mesalina olivieri schmidtii (HAAS, 1951)
Mesalina olivieri schmidtii — SZCZERBAK 1989
Mesalina olivieri schmidti — DISI et al. 2004
Mesalina olivieri schmidti — AL-QURAN 2009 
DistributionMorocco, Algeria, Western Sahara, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sinai, Israel, Jordan, S Iraq, N Saudi Arabia

latasti: SE Algeria (not reconfirmed)

schmidtii: Israel, Jordan; Type locality: Israel, Wadi Nefk.

Type locality: Egypt.  
Reproductionoviparous; females deposit 2 or more clutches per year with 2 – 4 eggs per clutch: spermatogenesis is almost continuous but oviposition does not occur in mid-winter despite the lizards being active all year. (Yousefkhani et al. 2015). 
TypesTypes: BMNH 1946.8.6.56-57 (and possibly additional specimens).
Holotype: HUJ (Hebrew University) No. 1765, male [schmidtii] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Small, short-headed and broad-snouted lizard that is sympatric with M. guttulata over much of its range. It was very common at the beginning of the 20th century but has been reduced in numbers by agricultural projects. It feeds on small insects, spiders, snails and mites, which form a substantial part of its diet in some places. In appearance it is similar to M. simoni.
Ground color is some variation of brown, from dark to beige, while the head may be silvery gray in old specimens. Dorsal pattern also varies on some arrangement of six longitudinal lines. Limbs are same color as body but with small spots. Lower flanks may be dotted with black.
Activity: M. olivieri is active all year round but diurnal activity may extend into dusk during summer. It may also estivate (Audouin, 1829).
Habitat: flat terraces of open ground with stones and shrubs; sandy or loamy soils with Frankenia thymifolia and Zygophyllum album; Halfa grass steppes; and sandy regions with rocks in the Saharan region.
Occipital scale well developed, four supraoculars of which 1st and 4th are small and divided. Nostrils rounded and protruding, situated between 3 scales one of which touches rostral. Frontal region somewhat bulging. Up to 7 supralabials; the 5th contacts the eye in 90% of specimens examined, the 6th and rarely the 7th in 10%. Four pairs of submaxillaries, of which anterior 3 are in contact. Gular fold and collar generally distinct. 35 to 50 (usually 40 – 47) smooth scales across middle of body. Eight longitudinal rows plus marginal row of half-sized plates on each side. Femoral pores 14 – 15 beneath each thigh. Males can be distinguished from females by the presence of a ventrally flattened tail base (rounded in females). (Yousefkhani et al. 2015). 
CommentSubspecies after SCHLEICH, KÄSTLE & KABISCH 1996. Mesalina olivieri simoni BOETTGER 1881, Mesalina olivieri martini (BOULENGER 1887), and Mesalina olivieri balfouri BLANFORD 1881 have been elevated to species status. Southern populations of M. olivieri have been described as Mesalina simoni saharae PIZZIGALLI et al. 2021.

Distribution: Not listed for Iraq by Mohammed et al. 2017 (RJH 24: 193). See Bar et al. 2021 for a map. 
EtymologyNamed after Guillaume-Antoine Olivier (1756-1814), a botanist, entomologist, and malacologist and one of the great French naturalists. 
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  • Baha el Din, S. 2006. A guide to the reptiles and amphibians of Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo. xvi + 359 pp.
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  • Bar, A., Haimovitch, G. and Meiri, S. 2021. Field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of Israel. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt Am Main. ISBN 9783-89973-120-0 - get paper here
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  • Bosch, Herman in den 2006. Note on the reproduction of a pair of Egyptian Mesalina olivieri (Audouin, 1829) Podarcis 7 (1/2): 2-6 - get paper here
  • Corti, C., Haj, S. B., Nouira, S., Ouni, R., Rivière, V., Delaugerre, M. J., & Cascio, P. L. 2022. The Herpetofauna of the Tunisian islands. Naturalista Siciliano, 4(66), 117-124
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  • Disi, A.M.; Modry, D.; Necas, P. & Rifai, L. 2001. Amphibians and reptiles of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 408 pp.
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  • Haas, G. 1951. Remarks on the status of the lizard Eremias olivieri in Palestina, and a description of a new subspecies. Copeia 1951 (4): 274-276 - get paper here
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