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Phrynosoma asio COPE, 1864

IUCN Red List - Phrynosoma asio - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaPhrynosomatidae, Phrynosomatinae, Phrynosomatini; Iguania, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Giant Horned Lizard
G: Riesenkrötenechse
S: Camaleón de Grandes Cuernos 
SynonymPhrynosoma asio COPE 1864: 178
Batrachosoma asio — DUMERIL & BOCOURT 1870: 241
Batrachosoma asio — BOCOURT 1874
Phrynosoma spinimentum PETERS 1874: 742
Phrynosoma asio — GENTRY 1885: 144
Phrynosoma asio — BOULENGER 1885: 244
Phrynosoma asio — SMITH & TAYLOR 1950: 102
Phrynosoma asio — LINER 1994
Phrynosoma asio — KÖHLER 2000: 83
Phrynosoma asio — PIANKA & VITT 2003: 79
Phrynosoma asio — MATA-SILVA et al. 2015
Phrynosoma asio — KÖHLER 2021 
DistributionSE Mexico (Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacán, Colima, Chiapas, Morelos, Jalisco), Guatemala

Type locality: Colima, Colima.  
TypesHolotype: USNM 32217 (fide SMITH & TAYLOR 1950); USNM catalog says “probable syntype”. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A large species of the genus Phrynosoma (SVL to 124 mm) that is distinguished from all congeners by having the superciliary spines well developed, equaling, or nearly equaling, the occipital spines. It has the following combination of characters: (1) two widely spaced occipital spines; (2) two temporal spines, same length as occipital spines; (3) lateral abdominal fringe in one scale row; (4) ventral scales keeled; (5) 3-4 rows of enlarged scales on each side of gular area; (6) ventral surface of body with diffuse gray spots; (7) tail length at least half that of body; (8) oviparous (Baur & Köhler 2021).

Original description: “Nostrils lateral, in the line of the canthus rostralis. Three or four series of lateral gular scales on each side, which are short and subequal. Rostral present, flat semi-discoid. Eight scales on sharp infralabial ridge. Superior labials nine, subequal, not produced into horns continuous with temporo-occipital crest. Horns of latter, two diverging temporal, separated from two vertical occipital, which are separated by a depression. One high acute posterior superciliary on each side. Auricular opening large, bounded below and behind tach by a bunch of spines. Two lateral series, superior large. Pectoral and abominal scales large, keeled ; femoral pores to 9. A dorsolateral series of very thick spinous processes, and two median dorsal rows of flat mucronate scales, which become four rows of spines on the tail ; one median nuchal row. Femur and tibia with two rows of spines each; three rows of very strongly keeled plates on the humerus. Tail of & as long as from boulder to vent; i. e., 3 inches 4 lines. End of muzzle to ear 1 inch; to shou'der 1 inch 6 lines to end of temporal horn 1 inch 4 lines; to end of superciliary do. 1 inch. Width of front between middle of superciliary ridges 8 lines. Width of body (exclusive of lateral spines) 3 inches 4 lines.
General color ashy; the head pale; the body brownish : from occiput to groin between dorso-lateral and lateral rows of spines, deep brown, leaving a narrow pale space on nape. Four broad brown cross-bands anterior to sacral region, pale bordered posteriorly nearly obsolete in d'; tail with many brown, pale-edged cross-bands: below unspotted.” (Cope 1864: 178) 
CommentLongevity: up to 12 or 13 years. 
EtymologyNamed after Latin “asio” meaning horned owl (but it can also mean “Asian” or “from Asia minor”). 
  • Aguilar-López JL, Luría-Manzano R, Pineda E, Canseco-Márquez L 2021. Selva Zoque, Mexico: an important Mesoamerican tropical region for reptile species diversity and conservation. ZooKeys 1054: 127-153 - get paper here
  • Alvarez DEL TORO, M. 1982. Los Reptiles de Chiapas. 3rd ed. México: Tuxtla Gutiérrez, 248 pp.
  • Baur, B. 1979. Pflege und Zucht der Riesenkrötenechse, Phrynosoma asio (Reptilia: Sauria: Iguanidae). Salamandra 15 (1): 1-12 - get paper here
  • Baur, B. & Köhler, G. 2021. Krötenechsen - Biologie, Pflege, Zucht. Frankfurt, Herpeton-Verlag
  • Baur, B.E. 1986. Longevity of horned lizards of the genus Phrynosoma. Bull. Maryland Herp. Soc. 22 (3): 149-151 - get paper here
  • Bocourt, M. E. 1873. In: A. Duméril, M. F. Bocourt, and F. Mocquard, (1870-1909), Etudes sur les reptiles, p. i-xiv; In Recherches Zoologiques pour servir a l'Histoire de Ia Faune de l'Amérique Centrale et du Mexique. Mission Scientifique au Mexique et dans l'Amérique Ce Imprimerie Impériale, Paris, Livr. 2-15, pp. 33-860. - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1885. Catalogue of the lizards in the British Museum (Natural History). Vol. 2, Second edition. London, xiii+497 pp. - get paper here
  • Casas-Andreu, G., F.R. Méndez-De la Cruz and X. Aguilar-Miguel. 2004. Anfibios y Reptiles; pp. 375–390, in A.J.M. García-Mendoza, J. Ordoñez and M. Briones-Salas (ed.). Biodiversidad de Oaxaca. Instituto de Biología, UNAM-Fondo Oaxaqueño para la Conservación de la Naturaleza-World Wildlife Fund, México, D. F.
  • Castro-Franco, R. & Guadalupe Bustos Zagal, M. 2004. Additional records and range extensions of reptiles from Morelos, México. Herpetological Review 35 (2): 196-197 - get paper here
  • Cope, E.D. 1864. Contributions to the herpetology of tropical America. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 16: 166-181. - get paper here
  • Dost, W. 2005. Stichpunktartige Bemerkungen zu Pflege und zucht diverser Iguaniden. Iguana Rundschreiben 18 (1): 16-24
  • Duméril, M. A.; M. F. Bocourt, and F. Mocquard 1870. Etudes sur les reptiles, p. i-xiv, 1-1012. In: Recherches Zoologiques pour servir a l'Histoire de Ia Faune de l'Amérique Centrale et du Mexique. Mission Scientifique au Mexique et dans l'Amérique Centrale, Recherches zoologiques. Imprimerie Imper., Paris (published in parts 1870-1909) - get paper here
  • García, Ernesto Raya and Luis Fernando Martínez García. 2013. Herpetoculture notes: Phrynosoma asio (giant horned lizard) drinking behavior. Herpetological Review 44 (3): 453 - get paper here
  • García, Ernesto Raya. 2014. Phrynosoma asio (giant horned lizard) predation. Herpetological Review 45 (1): 131-132 - get paper here
  • Gentry, A.F. 1885. A review of the genus Phrynosoma. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philad. (ser. 3) 37: 138-148 - get paper here
  • Haase, K. 2014. Haltung und Nachzucht der Riesenkrötenechse (Phrynosoma asio) im Terrarium. Reptilia (Münster) 19 (107): 30-33
  • Johnson, Jerry D.; Vicente Mata-Silva, Elí García Padilla, and Larry David Wilson 2015. The Herpetofauna of Chiapas, Mexico: composition, distribution, and conservation. Mesoamerican Herpetology 2 (3): 272–329. - get paper here
  • Köhler, G. 2000. Reptilien und Amphibien Mittelamerikas, Bd 1: Krokodile, Schildkröten, Echsen. Herpeton Verlag, Offenbach, 158 pp.
  • Lara-Reséndiz Rafael A., Arenas-Moreno Diego M., Beltrán-Sánchez Elizabeth, Gramajo Weendii, Verdugo-Molina Javier, Sherbrooke Wade C. et al. 2015. Selected body temperature of nine species of Mexican horned lizards (Phrynosoma). Rev. Mex. Biodiv. 86 (1): 275-278. - get paper here
  • Lemos-Espinal JA, Smith GR 2020. A conservation checklist of the herpetofauna of Morelos, with comparisons with adjoining states. ZooKeys 941: 121-144 - get paper here
  • Mata-Silva, Vicente, Jerry D. Johnson, Larry David Wilson and Elí García-Padilla. 2015. The herpetofauna of Oaxaca, Mexico: composition, physiographic distribution, and conservation status. Mesoamerican Herpetology 2 (1): 6–62 - get paper here
  • McCoy, C. J.; Flores-Villela, O. A. 1985. Amphibians and reptiles of the Seese and Mocino expedition: a lost chapter in Mexican herpetology. Annals of the Carnegie Museum 54 (5): 189-193 - get paper here
  • Meyers, J.J.; Herrel, A. & Nishikawa, K. 2006. Morphological correlates of ant eating in horned lizards (Phrynosoma). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 89: 13–24 - get paper here
  • Montanucci, Richard R. 1987. A phylogenetic study of the horned lizards, genus Phrynosoma, based on skeletal and external morphology. Contributions in Science (390): 1-36 + 1 plate - get paper here
  • Palacios-Aguilar, Ricardo & OSCAR FLORES-VILLELA 2018. An updated checklist of the herpetofauna from Guerrero, Mexico. Zootaxa 4422 (1): 1-24 - get paper here
  • Pareja, M. G., et al. 2017. Phrynosoma asio (Giant Horned Lizard) Natural longevity. Herpetological Review 48 (2): 439-440 - get paper here
  • Pareja, Marcos García, Elizabeth Beltrán-Sánchez and Wade C. Sherbrooke. 2016. Phrynosoma asio (Giant Horned Lizard) Natural longevity (age). Herpetological Review 47 (1): 138-139 - get paper here
  • Peters, Wilhem Carl Hartwig 1874. Über neue Saurier (Spæriodactylus, Anolis, Phrynosoma, Tropidolepisma, Lygosoma, Ophioscincus) aus Centralamerica, Mexico und Australien. Monatsber. königl. Akad. Wiss. Berlin. 1873 (November): 738-747 - get paper here
  • Pianka, E.R. & Vitt, L.J. 2003. Lizards - Windows to the Evolution of Diversity. University of California Press, Berkeley, 347 pp. [review in Copeia 2004: 955] - get paper here
  • Presch,W. 1969. Evolutionary osteology and relationships of the horned lizard genus Phrynosoma (family Iguanidae). Copeia 1969 (2): 250-275 - get paper here
  • Raya-García, Ernesto. 2014. Phrynosoma asio (giant horned lizard) captive diet. Herpetological Review 45 (4): 635 - get paper here
  • Raya-García, Ernesto. 2014. Phrynosoma asio (giant horned lizard) crepuscular and nocturnal activity. Herpetological Review 45 (2): 330 - get paper here
  • Recchio, Ian, Marlowe Roberton-Billet, Chris Rodriguez and Jim Haigwood. 2014. Captive husbandry and reproduction of Phrynosoma asio (Squamata: Phrynosomatidae) at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Herpetological Review 45 (3): 450-454 - get paper here
  • Reeder,T.W. & Montanucci,R.R. 2001. Phylogenetic analysis of the horned lizards (Phrynomomatidae: Phrynosoma): evidence from mitochondrial DNA and morphology. Copeia 2001 (2): 309-323 - get paper here
  • Reeve, Wayne L. 1952. Taxonomy and distribution of the horned lizard genus Phrynosoma. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 34 (14): 817-960 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, Karl P.;Shannon, Frederick A. 1947. Notes on amphibians and reptiles of Michoacan, Mexico. Zoological Series of Field Museum of Natural History 31 (9): 63-85
  • Sherbrooke, Wade C. 2003. Introduction to Horned Lizards of North America. University of California Press, Berkeley, 178 pp. - get paper here
  • Smith, Hobart M. 1944. Additions to the list of Mexican amphibians and reptiles in the Carnegie Museum. Annals of the Carnegie Museum 30: 87-92
  • Werning, H. 2014. Krötenechsen – eine (sehr gute) Laune der Natur. Reptilia (Münster) 19 (107): 16-23
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