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Philochortus spinalis (PETERS, 1874)

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Higher TaxaLacertidae, Eremiadinae, Sauria, Lacertoidea, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Peters’ Shield-backed Lizard, Eritrea Orangetail Lizard 
SynonymLacerta spinalis PETERS 1874: 369
Latastia spinalis — BOULENGER 1896
Latastia spinalis — NEUMANN 1905
Latastia spinalis — TORNIER 1905: 375
Philochortus spinalis — BOULENGER 1917
Philochortus spinalis — PARKER 1942: 75
Philochortus spinalis — LANZA 1983
Philochortus spinalis — BAUER et al. 1995: 58
Philochortus spinalis — LARGEN & SPAWLS 2010: 364 
DistributionFrom Niger up to Ethiopia and N Somalia, Eritrea

Type locality: “angeblich aus Bogos” [Eritrea]  
TypesHolotype: ZMB 7633 
DiagnosisDescription: Head and body feebly depressed. Head 1.5 to 1.6 times as long as broad, its depth equal to the distance between the anterior corner of the eye and the tympanum, its length 4 to 4.33 times in length to vent; snout obtusely pointed, as long as postocular part of head, vrith obtuse canthus. Pileus twice as long as broad. Neck as broad as the head or a little narrower. Hind limb reaching the shoulder or between the shoulder and the ear in males, the axil or the shoulder in females; foot 1.33 to 1.4 times as long as hand; toes slender, feebly compressed. Tail 2 to 2j times as long as head and body. Nostril pierced between 3 shields; nasals forming a suture behind the rostral, the suture 1/3 to 2/3 the length of the frontonasal, which is much broader than long and broader than the internarial space; pre frontals forming a short median suture; frontal as long as its distance from the end of the snout, 1.5 to 1.66 times as long as broad, angular in front, much narrower behind, not or but very feebly grooved in front; parietals 1.25 to 1.5 times as long as broad, usually meeting on the median line, the interparietal being small and separated from the occipital, or often altogether absent (absent in the type specimen and in most of the 59 specimens from Ghina examined by Boulenger); occipital small (divided into 2 in the type) rarely in contact with the interparietal (in 2 females from Rugdeira Sogheira in the Genova museum) Two large subequal supraoculars, preceded and followed by a small one (first and fourth) often broken up into two or more small shields or granules, the first in contact with the frontal; 6 or 7 superciliaries, separated from the supraoculars by a series of granules. Lower eyelid opaque or somewhat translucid, with feebly enlarged scales in the middle, some of which are deeper than the others. Eostral not entering the nostril; a single postnasal; anterior loreal shorter than the second (absent in the type); 4, rarely 5, upper labials anterior to the subocular, which is usually narrower beneath than above. A long, narrow upper temporal, usually in contact with the fourth supraocular, followed by one or two small shields; upper temporal scales small and granular or hexagonal, lower larger; a more or less distinct tympanic shield. 4 pairs of chin-shields, first two or three in contact in the middle; 21 to 29 gular scales between the symphysis of the chin-shields and the median collar-plate, granular in front, gradually or abruptly enlarged and imbricate behind, those of the last row often as large as the plates of the collar; no gular fold. Collar with strongly serrated edge, composed of 6 to 10 plates. Scales granular on the nape; 2, 4, or rarely 6 rows of hexagonal plates along the back, usually smooth, sometimes very feebly keeled; these plates rather small and usually merging gradually into the granular, flat, smooth or obtusely keeled scales on the sides; 30 to 46 plates and scales across the middle of the body. Ventral plates in 6 longitudinal and 27 to 32 transverse series, the border of the transverse series notched between the plates, the median pair of which is narrower than the others. Preanal plates small and irregular, or two median enlarged. 11 to 15 femoral pores on each side. 27 to 30 lamellar scales under the fourth toe. Caudal scales forming alternately longer and shorter whorls, upper oblique, rather strongly and diagonally keeled, rounded or obtusely pointed behind, lower feebly keeled, basals smooth; 21 to 28 scales in the fourth or fifth whorl behind the postanal granules. Young dark brown or black on the body, with 6 yellowish white longitudinal streaks; the median pair bifurcating on the nape, the outer branch extending to the superciliary edge, and uniting on the base of the tail; the upper lateral streak from the eye to the tail, passing above the tympanum, the lower from the upper lip to the thigh, passing through the tympanum and above the fore limb, reappearing on the back of the thigh; upper surface of head pale brown, with or without distinct mottling; upper surface of fore limb pale brown, the shields dark-edged, of hind limb brown with round white spots; lower parts white; tail coral-red. These markings may entirely disappear in the adult, or the dark spaces between the light streaks may be replaced by longitudinal series of dark brown or black spots on a yellowish brown ground (Boulenger 1921: 3). 
  • Bauer, A.M.; Günther,R. & Klipfel,M. 1995. The herpetological contributions of Wilhelm C.H. Peters (1815-1883). SSAR Facsimile Reprints in Herpetology, 714 pp.
  • Boulenger, G. A. 1896. A list of the reptiles and batrachians collected by Dr. Ragazzi in Shoa and Eritrea. Annali Mus. civ. Stor. nat. Genova, Giacomo Doria, (2) 16: 545-554 - get paper here
  • 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.
  • Mayer W, Pavlicev M. 2007. The phylogeny of the family Lacertidae (Reptilia) based on nuclear DNA sequences: Convergent adaptations to arid habitats within the subfamily Eremiainae. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 44 (3): 1155-63 - get paper here
  • Mazuch, Tomáš 2013. Amphibians and Reptiles of Somaliland and Eastern Ethiopia. Tomáš Mazuch Publishing, 80 pp. ISBN: 978-80-905439-0-4 - get paper here
  • Neumann, Oscar Rudolph 1905. Über nordost-afrikanische und arabische Kriechtiere. Zool. Jahrb. Syst., 22: 389-404. - get paper here
  • Papenfuss, T. J. 1969. Preliminary analysis of the reptiles of arid central West Africa. Wasmann Journal of Biology 27:249—325 - get paper here
  • Parker, H. W. 1942. The lizards of British Somaliland. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 91: 1—101 - get paper here
  • Peters, Wilhem Carl Hartwig 1874. Über einige neue Reptilien (Lacerta, Eremias, Diploglossus, Euprepes, Lygosoma, Sepsina, Ablepharus, Simotes, Onychocephalus). Monatsber. königl. Akad. Wiss. Berlin. 1874 (Juni): 368-377 - get paper here
  • Tornier, G. 1905. Schildkröten und Eidechsen aus Nord-Ost Afrika und Arabien. Aus Carlo v. Erlanger’s und Oscar Neumann’s Forschungsreise. Zool. Jahrb. Syst. 22: 365-388 - get paper here
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