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Philochortus intermedius BOULENGER, 1917

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Higher TaxaLacertidae, Eremiadinae, Sauria, Lacertoidea, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesSouthern Orangetail Lizard, Shield-backed ground lizard
intermedius: Boulenger’s Shield-backed Lizard 
SynonymPhilochortus intermedius BOULENGER 1917: 152
Philochortus intermedius — SCORTECCI 1931: 145
Philochortus intermedius — LANZA 1983
Philochortus intermedius — SPAWLS & ROTICH 1997 
DistributionSomalia, adjacent E Ethiopia, Republic of South Sudan (RSS), Sudan (Jumhūriyyat)

Type locality: Northern Somaliland at and near Berbera.  
TypesTypes: BMNH 1946.9.3.26-35 (and possibly additional specimens). 
DiagnosisDescription: Head and body rather depressed. Head 1.4 to 1.66 times as long as broad, its depth equal to the distance between the anterior corner or the centre of the eye and the tympanum, its length 4 to 4.33 times in length to vent in males, 4.33 to 5 times in females; snout obtusely pointed, as long as postocular part of head, with obtuse canthus. Pileus 2 to 2.25 times as long as broad. Neck as broad as the head or a little narrower. Hind limb reaching the elbow or the axil in females, the axil, the shoulder, or the collar in males; foot 1.33 to 1.5 times as long as head; toes slender, compressed. Tail 2 to 2.75 times as long as head and body. Nostril separated from the upper labial and the postnasal by a narrow rim; nasals forming a suture behind the rostral, the suture 1/3 to 2/3 the length of the frontonasal, which is broader than long and broader than the internarial space; prefrontals forming a short median suture; frontal as long as its distance from the end of the snout or a little shorter, 1.66 to 2 times as long as broad, angular or rounded in front, narrower behind, not or but feebly grooved; parietals 1.5 to 1.66 times as long as broad; interparietal 2 to 3 times as long as broad, in contact with the occipital, which is usually broader and about half as long. 4 supraoculars, first small and sometimes broken up into 2 or 3, as often as not in contact with the frontal, second and third large and equal or second a little longer, fourth small and usually broken up into 2 or 3; 6 or 7 superciliaries, separated from the supraoculars by a complete series of granules, or first in contact with the first and second supraoculars. Lower eyelid somewhat transparent, with feebly enlarged scales in the middle, some of which may be deeper than the others. Eostral not entering the nostril; a single postnasal; anterior loreal shorter than the second; 5, rarely 4 (in 2 spcimens only) upper labials anterior to the subocular, which is narrower beneath than above. A long, narrow upper temporal, usually in contact with the fourth supraocular, usually followed by one or two small shields; temporal scales very small and granular above, much larger beneath; a curved tympanic shield. 4 pairs of chin-shields, sometimes followed by a small fifth, first three in contact in the middle; 21 to 28 gular scales in a straight line in the middle, granular in front, gradually or abruptly enlarged and imbricate towards the collar; no gular fold. Collar vrith strongly serrated edge, composed of 7 to 10 (exceptionally 4) plates. Scales granular and smooth on the nape, rhombic and keeled on the body; 2 or 4 series of hexagonal plates along the back, more or less strongly keeled, rarely faintly keeled; 33 to 40 plates and scales across the middle of the body; 12 to 18 large keeled scales in a transverse series between the hind limbs. Ventral plates in 6 longi tudinal and 27 to 32 transverse series (27 to 30 in males, 30 to 32 in females), the border of the transverse series feebly notched betweeu the plates, the median pair of which is narrower than the others. Preanal plates small and irregular, or two or three enlaro-ed ones in the middle, in a longitudinal series, or three forming a triangle. 12 to 18 femoral pores on each side. 24 to 30 lamellar scales under the fourth toe. Caudal scales in alternately somewhat longer and shorter whorls, upper oblique, strongly and diagonally keeled, rounded or obtusely pointed behind, lower keeled; 24 to 28 scales in the fourth or fifth whorl behind the postanal granules. Young black on the upper surface of the body, with 6 yellow streaks, the median pair diverging towards the occiput, to embrace an additional pair of short streaks, or each streak bifurcating just before reaching the occiput; the upper lateral streak extends from behind the eye to the base of the tail, passing above the tympanum, the lower from the upper lip, through the tympanum and above the fore limb, to the thigh; head and upper surface of fore limbs brown, hind limbs and tail coral-red, throat and belly white. These markings may persist more or less distinct in the adult, which vary much in colour; the blackish bands between the light streaks may be much spotted with whitish, or broken up into spots, or the upper parts may be grey, brown or reddish with 7 blackish longitudinal streaks (9 behind the occiput), or merely with two series of blackish spots on each side. Tail often reddish towards the end (Boulenger 1921: 9). 
CommentSubspecies: Philochortus intermedius rudolfensis is now considered as a valid species. 
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1917. On the lizards of the genus Philochortus MATSCHIE. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1917: 145-157 - get paper here
  • Lanza, B. 1983. A list of the Somali amphibians and reptiles. MONITORE ZOOLOGICO ITALIANO, new Ser., SUPPL. 18 (8): 193-247 - get paper here
  • Lanza, B. 1990. Amphibians and reptiles of the Somali Democratic Republic: check list and biogeography. Biogeographia, 14: 407-465 [1988] - get paper here
  • Largen, M.J.; Spawls, S. 2006. Lizards of Ethiopia (Reptilia Sauria): an annotated checklist, bibliography, gazetteer and identification. Tropical Zoology 19 (1): 21-109 - get paper here
  • Largen, M.J.; Spawls, S. 2010. Amphibians and Reptiles of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 694 pp.
  • Parker, H. W. 1942. The lizards of British Somaliland. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 91: 1—101 - get paper here
  • Parker,H.W. 1932. Scientific results of the Cambridge expedition to the east African lakes, 1930-31. 5. Reptiles and amphibians. Zool. J. Linnean Soc. 38: 213-229 - get paper here
  • Scortecci, G. 1930. Secondo contributo alla conoscenza dei rettili della Somalia Italiana. Atti della Società Italiana di Scienze Naturali e del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale in Milano, 69:127—152. [1931] - get paper here
  • Spawls, S. & Rotich, D. 1997. An annotated checklist of the lizards of Kenya. J. East African Nat. Hist. 86: 61-83
  • Spawls, S.; Howell, K.; Drewes, R.C. & Ashe, J. 2002. A field guide to the reptiles of East Africa. Academic Press, 543 pp. [reviews in HR 34: 396 and Afr. J. Herp. 51; 147] - get paper here
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