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Phrynosoma douglasii (BELL, 1829)

IUCN Red List - Phrynosoma douglasii - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaPhrynosomatidae, Phrynosomatinae, Phrynosomatini; Iguania, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Pigmy Short-horned Lizard
G: Zwerg-Kurzhorn-Krötenechse
douglasii: Pigmy Short-horned Lizard 
SynonymAgama Douglassii BELL 1829: 105
Phrynosoma Douglassi — WAGLER 1830: 146
Tapaya Douglassi GIRARD 1858: 397
Phrynosoma douglassi pygmaea YARROW 1882: 443
Phrynosoma Douglassi — GENTRY 1885: 140
Phrynosoma douglassii — BOULENGER 1885: 240
Phrynosoma douglassii douglassii — COPE 1900: 412
Phrynosoma douglassii — PRESCH 1969
Phrynosoma douglassii — STEBBINS 1985: 141
Phrynosoma douglassi — HAMMERSON & SMITH 1991
Phrynosoma douglassii — LINER 1994
Phrynosoma douglasii — COLLINS & TAGGART 2009
Phrynosoma (Tapaja) douglasii — CROTHER et al. 2012
Phrynosoma douglasii — MONTANUCCI 2015: 45
Phrynosoma douglasii — KÖHLER 2021 
DistributionCanada (SC British Columbia, possibly extinct),
USA (Washington, Oregon, N California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, W North Dakota, W South Dakota, W Nebraska, N California, N Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, W Texas),
Mexico (Chihuahua)

Type locality. somewhere along the Columbia River, Washington.  
Reproductionovovivparous (Lambert & Wiens 2013). 
TypesHolotype: MCZ 5951; also given as MCZ 5952 or 5953 or BMNH 1946.8.10.52-53
Holotype: USNM 23993 [brachycercum]
Syntypes: USNM 9199, 10918, 11473 [Phrynosoma douglassi pygmaea] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Phrynosoma douglasii can be distinguished from other members of the species complex by the following combination of adult characters: (1) snout short, 44.6% ± 1.04 (36.6–49%) of orbit to rostral scale distance; (2) rostrofrontal profile strongly rounded or angular with a steep, nearly vertical, incline; (3) frontal rim not elevated, or only slightly elevated above the occipital shelf; (4) enlarged frontal rim scales 0.66 ± 0.21 (0–2) / 0.73 ± 0.20 (0–2); (5) temporal shelf short, 7.4% ± 0.86 (2.0–19.5%) in males, 10.3% ± 0.66 (1.9–17.5%) in females; (6) temporal shelf surface moderately to strongly convex (rounded); (7) cephalic horns very short, third temporal horn length 8.0% ± 0.13 (4.6–10.6%); (8) cephalic horns directed upward (ca. 45°) to vertical; (9) tympanum elliptic, typically narrow, or small and rounded; (10) tympanum exposed, or partly or entirely concealed by granular scales; (11) tail moderately short 214% ± 5.36 (158–255%) in males, 167% ± 4.14 (123–225%) in females; (12) dorsal spots small to moderately large, wedge-shaped, slightly rounded, or forming transverse bands; (13) light-colored borders of dorsal spots confined to posterior edges; (14) dorsolateral white spots absent; (15) gular area with gray to charcoal suffusion or flecks (melanin-dispersed phase); (16) abdomen with scattered melanistic flecks or a gray suffusion, no melanistic spots (melanin-dispersed phase); (17) melanistic subcaudal bands absent (melanin-dispersed phase). From Montanucci 2015: 46.

Comparisons. Phrynosoma douglasii can be distinguished from all other members of the species complex by its minute occipital and temporal horns (TH significantly shorter than in all other taxa, Table 3), the absence or weak development of the frontal rim (except P. brevirostris and P. diminutum sp. nov.), a low number of enlarged frontal rim scales, a short temporal shelf with a convex or strongly rounded surface, a narrow, elliptic tympanum, reduced to a small, rounded disc in some specimens, and usually concealed by scales. It is further distinguished from P. h. hernandesi and P. h. ornatum by its small adult size, vertical orientation of the occipital and temporal horns, a rounded or angular and steeply inclined rostrofrontal profile, and the absence of melanistic abdominal spots and melanistic subcaudal bands (melanin-dispersed phase). P. douglasii can be further distinguished from P. ornatissimum and its subspecies by its smaller adult size, pale gray to charcoal suffusion on the gular area (melanin-dispersed phase), absence of dorsolateral white spots and absence of a discrete yellow and/or white line along the medial border of each dorsal spot (except P. o. brachycercum).
In southern Oregon, southwestern Idaho, and northern Nevada, where P. douglasii may occur in proximity to P. h. ornatum, the two taxa may be distinguished by the usual presence of red pigment on the temporal shelf and horns as well as red pigment on the gular area and above the lateral fringe scales of the latter species. In addition, P. douglasii may have a dark, transverse band across the frontal area of the head, which is lacking in P. h. ornatum. In southwestern Montana, this trait will also help distinguish P. douglasii from P. brevirostris. From Montanucci 2015: 46. 
CommentSubspecies: The former subspecies Phrynosoma douglassii hernandesi (Girard, 1858) has been elevated to species status by Zamudio et al. 1997. The subspecies P. d. brevirostre, ornatissimum, and P. d. ornatum have been synonymized with P. hernandesi following Zamudio et al. 1997. Phrynosoma douglassii brachycercum has been assigned to Phrynosoma ornatissimum by Montanucci 2015.

Habitat: montane

Group: Belongs to the Tapaja clade fide LEACHE & MCGUIRE 2006.

Distribution: see map in Montanucci 2015: 24 (Fig. 6). Not in Sonora fide Lemos-Espinal et al. 2019. Not in Durango fide Lemos-Espinal (2018). Not listed for Mexico by Liner 2007. P. (d.) hernandesi is in S Alberta and S Sasketchewan [fide BOULENGER 1887] but not douglasii proper. There is only one single credible report from S. British Columbia (Fannin 1898) but the species only been found there once (in 1957) since then (Powell & Russell 1998, Ryder et al. 2006).

Publication date: some sources say 1828, but the cover page on the journal says 1829. 
EtymologyNamed after David Douglas (1799-1834), a botanist and traveler who collected in North America (1823-1834) and Hawaii (1834) for the Royal Horticultural Society, London. Agama Douglassii is the original spelling, and Bell repeatedly referred to “Mr. Douglass” although his correct name was “Douglas”. 
  • Bell, T. 1829. Description of a new species of Agama, brought from the Columbia River by Mr. Douglass. Trans. Linn. Soc. London 16: 105-107 - get paper here
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Bergman, Enoch; Hill, Ben; Montgomery, Chad; Childers, Theresa; Manzer, Jerry D.; Sifert, James; Mackessy, Stephen P. 1998. Geographic Distribution. Phrynosoma douglasii. Herpetological Review 29 (2): 111 - get paper here
  • Blair C; Bryson R 2017. Cryptic diversity and discordance in single-locus species delimitation methods within horned lizards (Phrynosomatidae: Phrynosoma). Molecular Ecology Resources-6-17 - 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
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1887. On the affinity of the north-American lizard fauna. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (5) 20: 345-346 - get paper here
  • Bradley, W. Glen and James E. Deacon 1966. Amphibian and Reptile Records for Southern Nevada. Southwestern Naturalist 11 (1): 132-134 - get paper here
  • Collins, J.T. and T. W. Taggart 2009. Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles, and Crocodilians, Sixth Edition. Center for North American Herpetology, 48 pp.
  • Conant,R. & Collins,J.T. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern/Central North America, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin (Boston/New York), xx + 450 p.
  • Cope, E.D. 1871. On a peculiar habit ... in the Phrynosomas. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 1871: 305 - get paper here
  • Cope, E.D. 1875. Check-list of North American Batrachia and Reptilia with a systematic list of the higher groups, and an essay on geographical distribution based on specimens contained in the U.S. National Museum. Bull. US Natl. Mus. 1: 1-104 - get paper here
  • Cope, E.D. 1900. The crocodilians, lizards and snakes of North America. Ann. Rep. U.S. Natl. Mus. 1898: 153-1270 - get paper here
  • Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2012. Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles, and Crocodilians, Seventh Edition. Herpetological Circular 39: 1-92
  • Degenhardt, William G.; C. W. Painter, and A. H. Price 1996. Amphibians and reptiles of New Mexico. Univ. New Mexico Press, 431 pp.
  • Eaton, Theodore H., Jr 1935. Report on amphibians and reptiles of the Navajo country. Bulletin 3. Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition : 1-20 - get paper here
  • Fannin, J. 1898. A preliminary catalogue of the collections on natural history and ethnology in the Provincial Museum, Victoria, British Columbia. British Columbia Provincial Museum, Victoria, BC, 196 pp.
  • Gentry, A.F. 1885. A review of the genus Phrynosoma. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philad. (ser. 3) 37: 138-148 - get paper here
  • Girard, Charles F. 1858. United States Exploring Expedition during the Years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842, Under the command of Charles Wilkes, U.S.N. Vol. 20. Herpetology. C. Sherman & Son, Philadelphia, xv, 492 pages [see note in Zhao and Adler 1993: 369] - get paper here
  • Guyer, Craig. 2006. Phrynosoma douglasii Copulatory position. Herpetological Review 37 (1): 91-92 - get paper here
  • Hammerson, G.A. & H.M. Smith 1991. The correct spelling of the name for the short-horned lizard of North America. Bull. Maryland Herp. Soc. 27: 121-127 - get paper here
  • Jones, L.L. & Lovich, R.E. 2009. Lizards of the American Southwest. A photographic field guide. Rio Nuevo Publishers, Tucson, AZ, 568 pp. [review in Reptilia 86: 84] - get paper here
  • Knowlton, G., & Janes, M. 1934. Distributional and Food Habits Notes on Utah Lizards. Copeia, 1934(1), 10-14 - get paper here
  • Lambert, Shea M. and John J. Wiens 2013. EVOLUTION OF VIVIPARITY: A PHYLOGENETIC TEST OF THE COLD-CLIMATE HYPOTHESIS IN PHRYNOSOMATID LIZARDS. Evolution 67 (9): 2614–2630 - get paper here
  • Leaché, Adam D. and Jimmy A. McGuire 2006. Phylogenetic relationships of horned lizards (Phrynosoma ) based on nuclear and mitochondrial data: Evidence for a misleading mitochondrial gene tree. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39 (3): 628-644 - get paper here
  • Lynch, J.D. 1985. Annotated checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Nebraska. Nebraska Acad. of Sci., Lincoln, Trans. 13: 33-57.
  • 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. 2015. A taxonomic revision of the Phrynosoma douglasii species complex (Squamata: Phrynosomatidae). Zootaxa 4015 (1): 001–177 - get paper here
  • Nussbaum, R.A., Brodie, E.D., Jr., & Storm, R.M. 1983. Amphibians and reptiles of the Pacific Northwest. Univ. Press of Idaho, Moscow 332 pp.
  • Powell, G.L., and A.P. Russell. 1998. The status of the short horned lizards (Phrynosoma douglasi and P. hernandezi) in Canada. Report to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Canadian Field-Naturalist 112: 1 - 16 - 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
  • Ryder, Glenn R.; R. Wayne Campbell, and G. Lawrence Powell 2006. A noteworthy record of the Pigmy Short-horned lizard (Phrynosoma douglasii) for British Columbia Wildlife Afield 3: 11-14 - get paper here
  • Sherbrooke, Wade C. 2003. Introduction to Horned Lizards of North America. University of California Press, Berkeley, 178 pp. - get paper here
  • Siebenrock, Friedrich 1892. Ueber Wirbelassimilation bei den Sauriern. Annalen des Königlichen Kaiserlichen Naturhistorischen Hofmuseum in Wien 7: 373-378 - get paper here
  • Smith, Hobart 1942. Mexican herpetological miscellany. Proc. US Natl. Mus. 92 (3153): 349-395 - get paper here
  • Smith, Hobart M.;Thompson, Dorian 1993. Four reptiles newly recorded from Ouray County, Colorado. Bull. Chicago Herp. Soc. 28 (4): 78-79 - get paper here
  • Stebbins,R.C. 1985. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, 2nd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston
  • Tanner, Vasco M. 1930. The amphibians and reptiles of Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Copeia 1930 (2): 41-43 - get paper here
  • Tanner, Vasco M.;Hayward, C. Lynn 1934. A biological study of the La Sal Mountains, Utah report No. 1 (Ecology). Proceedings of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters 11: 209-235
  • Tanner, W.W. 1987. Lizards and turtles of Western Chihuahua. Great Basin Naturalist. 47: 383-421 - get paper here
  • Tanner, Wilmer W. 1954. Herpetological notes concerning some reptiles of Utah and Arizona. Herpetologica 10: 92-96 - get paper here
  • Van Devender, Thomas R.; Lowe, Charles H. Lowe, Jr. 1977. Amphibians and reptiles of Yepomera, Chihuahua, Mexico. Journal of Herpetology 11 (1): 41-50 - get paper here
  • Wagler, Jean G. 1830. Natürliches System der Amphibien, mit vorangehender Classification der Säugetiere und Vögel. Ein Beitrag zur vergleichenden Zoologie. 1.0. Cotta, München, Stuttgart, and Tübingen, 354 pp. [1830-1832] - get paper here
  • Webb, R.G. 1984. Herpetogeography in the Mazatlán-Durango Region of the Sierra Madre Occidental, Mexico. Vetrebrate Ecology and Systematics - A ribute to Henry S. Fitch; Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas, Lawrence, pp. 217-241
  • Woodbury, Angus Munn 1928. The reptiles of Zion National Park. Copeia 1928 (166): 14-21 - get paper here
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