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Phrynosoma ornatissimum (GIRARD, 1858)

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Higher TaxaPhrynosomatidae, Phrynosomatinae, Phrynosomatini; Iguania, Sauria, Squamata (lizards) 
SubspeciesPhrynosoma ornatissimum ornatissimum GIRARD 1858
Phrynosoma ornatissimum brachycercum SMITH 1942 
Common NamesE: Desert Short-horned Lizard
G: Wüsten-Kurzhorn-Krötenechse
E: Short-tail Short-horned Lizard [brachycercum]
G: Kurzschwanz-Kurzhorn-Krötenechse [brachycercum] 
SynonymPhrynosoma (Tapaya) ornatissima GIRARD 1858a:396.
Phrynosoma ornatissima — COPE 1871: 305
Phrynosoma Douglassi subsp. ornatissima COPE 1878: 49

Phrynosoma ornatissimum ornatissimum GIRARD 1858
Phrynosoma (Tapaya) hernandesi GIRARD 1858: 395 (part)
Phrynosoma (Tapaya) ornatissima GIRARD 1858: 396.
Phrynosoma douglassi — GENTRY 1885: 140 (part)
Phrynosoma douglassii hernandesi — COPE 1900: 413 (part)
Phrynosoma douglassii ornatissimum — COPE 1900: 415
Phrynosoma douglassii ornatissimum VAN DENBURGH 1922: 377
Phrynosoma douglassii hernandesi — VAN DENBURGH 1922: 382 (part).
Phrynosoma douglassii hernandesi — SMITH 1946: 304 (part)
Phrynosoma douglassii ornatissimum — SMITH 1946: 305
Phrynosoma douglassii ornatissimum — REEVE 1952: 927
Phrynosoma hernandezi — ZAMUDIO et al. 1997: 302 (part)
Phrynosoma ornatissimum ornatissimum — MONTANUCCI 2015: 67

Phrynosoma ornatissimum brachycercum SMITH 1942
Phrynosoma douglassii brachycercum SMITH 1942: 362
Phrynosoma douglassii brachycercum — REEVE 1952: 916
Phrynosoma douglassii hernandesi — REEVE 1952: 922 (part).
Phrynosoma douglassii brachycercum — WEBB 1984
Phrynosoma ornatissimum brachycercum — MONTANUCCI 2015: 75 
DistributionUSA (New Mexico, Texas), Mexico (Durango, Chihuahua, Zacatecas)

ornatissumum: USA (New Mexico, Texas); Type locality: restricted to the Rio Grande Valley at Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, New Mexico

brachycercum: Mexico (Durango, Chihuahua, Zacatecas); Type locality: “Durango” (restricted to Durango City, Durango, Mexico by REEVE 1952)  
Reproductionviviparous 
TypesLectotype: USNM 204 (designated by Montanucci 2015: 68);Girard (1858a) described this species on the basis of specimens in the USNM, but he did not designate a type specimen.
Holotype: USNM 23993 [brachycercum] 
CommentSubspecies: The subspecies P. d. brevirostre, ornatissimum, and P. d. ornatum have been synonymized with P. hernandesi following Zamudio et al. 1997 but relvalidated by Montanucci 2015.

Habitat: montane

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

Distribution: see map and locality list in Montanucci 2015: 154,

Diagnosis. Phrynosoma ornatissimum can be distinguished from other members of the P. douglasii species complex by the following combination of adult characters: (1) snout truncate, 43.8% ± 1.39 (35.2–50%) of orbit to rostral scale distance; (2) rostrofrontal profile rounded or angular with a steep incline; (3) frontal rim well elevated above the occipital shelf; (4) enlarged frontal rim scales 3.20 ± 0.16 (2–4) / 3.21 ± 0.21 (2–4); (5) temporal shelf moderately long, 22.9% ± 0.98 (16.7–28.4%) in males, 23.1% ± 0.68 (17.9–30.0%) in females; (6) temporal shelf weakly to moderately convex; (7) cephalic horns moderately short, third temporal horn length 13.9% ± 0.41 (10.5– 16.7%); (8) cephalic horns elevated (ca. 45°) to nearly vertical; (9) tympanum elliptic, moderately broad; (10) tympanum exposed; (11) tail short, 193% ± 4.51 (139–224%) in males, 160% ± 3.16 (118–196%) in females; (12) dorsal spots large, rounded; (13) discrete white and/or yellow line along medial and posterior edges of each dorsal spot; (14) dorsolateral white spots present; (15) gular area with melanistic spots and short lines forming a series of chevrons or wavy transverse bands (melanin-dispersed phase); (16) abdomen with scattered gray flecks and patches, no large melanistic spots (melanin-dispersed phase); (17) melanistic subcaudal bands absent (melanin- dispersed phase) [MONTANUCCI 2015].

Comparisons. Phrynosoma o. ornatissimum can be distinguished from P. h. hernandesi and P. h. ornatum by its more truncate snout and rounded or angular and steeply inclined rostrofrontal profile, its slightly shorter temporal shelf, and its shorter occipital and temporal horns (except P. h. ornatum) that are usually directed upward to nearly vertical, and its short tail. It is further distinguished from P. hernandesi and its subspecies by the presence of large rounded dorsal spots with discrete, narrow, white and/or yellow lines forming the medial and posterior borders of the dorsal spots, a series of chevrons or wavy, irregular transverse bands on the gular area (melanin- dispersed phase), absence of large, melanistic spots on the abdomen (except some P. h. ornatum), and absence of interrupted or complete melanistic subcaudal bands. Cope (1900:415–16) erroneously ascribed to this taxon a more obtuse head and a deeper occipital emargination owing to the temporal shelf being produced farther posteriorly than in P. hernandesi; just the reverse is true (Table 3). P. ornatissimum can be distinguished from P. brevirostris, P. diminutum sp. nov. and P. douglasii by the frontal rim well elevated above the occipital shelf (except P. bauri sp. nov.), the high number of enlarged frontal rim scales, the longer temporal shelf, and melanistic chevrons or wavy transverse bands on the gular area (melanin-dispersed phase). P. ornatissimum can be distinguished further from P. douglasii by its large body size, moderately broad, elliptic and exposed tympanum. Note that P. ornatissimum and its subspecies brachycercum (next account) have the shortest mean tail length of all other taxa within the complex (except for the female sample of P. douglasii, Table 3) [MONTANUCCI 2015].

Diagnosis (brachycercum). Phrynosoma ornatissimum brachycercum can be distinguished from other members of the P. douglasii species complex by the following combination of adult characters: (1) snout short, 45.4% ± 2.15 (40.8– 50%) of orbit to rostral scale distance; (2) rostrofrontal profile abruptly rounded or angular with a steep incline; (3) frontal rim well elevated above the occipital shelf; (4) enlarged frontal rim scales 2.75 ± 0.22 (2–3) / 2.82 ± 0.26 (2–4); (5) temporal shelf moderately long, 20.9% ± 2.31 (15.1–26.8%) in males, 22.6% ± 1.39 (14.7–32.0%) in females; (6) temporal shelf weakly to moderately convex; (7) cephalic horns moderately short, third temporal horn length 12.7% ± 0.72 (7.3–18.2%) of head length; (8) cephalic horns elevated (ca. 45°) to nearly vertical; (9) tympanum elliptic, moderately broad; (10) tympanum exposed; (11) tail short, 189% ± 14.47 (149–238%) in males, 153% ± 5.50 (117–193%) in females; (12) dorsal spots wedge-shaped or slightly rounded, or transverse bands present; (13) light-colored borders, discrete or grading, confined to posterior edges of each dorsal spot; (14) dorsolateral white spots absent or present; (15) gular area with melanistic spots and short lines forming a chevron pattern or an undulating series of bands (melanin-dispersed phase); (16) abdomen with scattered gray flecks and patches, no large melanistic spots (melanin-dispersed phase); (17) melanistic subcaudal bands absent (melanin- dispersed phase) [MONTANUCCI 2015: 75].

Comparisons (brachycercum). P. o. brachycercum has essentially the same morphology, including tail proportions, as nominotypical P. ornatissimum, but differs from most specimens of the nominate subspecies by the absence of the discrete yellow or white line along the medial border of the dorsal spots (100% of 45 specimens), and by the absence of dorsolateral white spots (86% of 45 specimens). Also, in the nominate subspecies the brown dorsal spots are typically large and rounded, but in this race, the spots vary from small, rounded or wedge-shaped to transverse bands (see below). Smith (1942) also considered the keeled chest scales as diagnostic, but many specimens which I examined lack this trait.

P. o. brachycercum can be distinguished from P. h. hernandesi and P. h. ornatum by its more truncate snout and abruptly rounded or angular and steeply inclined rostrofrontal profile, its slightly shorter temporal shelf, and its shorter occipital and temporal horns (except P. h. ornatum) that are usually directed upward to nearly vertical, and its short tail. It is further distinguished from P. hernandesi and its subspecies by a series of chevrons or wavy transverse bands on the gular area (melanin-dispersed phase), absence of large, rounded or irregular melanistic spots on the abdomen (except some P. h. ornatum), and absence of interrupted or complete melanistic subcaudal bands. P. o. brachycercum can be distinguished from P. bauri sp. nov. by its short tail, absence of dorsolateral white spots (in most specimens), absence of large melanistic spots on the abdomen, and a gular pattern consisting of chevrons or wavy transverse bands. P. o. brachycercum can be distinguished from P. brevirostris, P. diminutum sp. nov. and P. douglasii by its frontal rim well elevated above the occipital shelf, its high number of enlarged frontal rim scales, its longer temporal shelf, and its melanistic chevrons or irregular, wavy transverse bands on the gular area. P. o. brachycercum can be further distinguished from P. douglasii by its large body size, moderately broad, elliptic, and exposed tympanum [MONTANUCCI 2015: 75]. 
Etymologyornatissima: The Latin word ornatus –a – um, (participle of the verb orno), with the neuter superlative suffix, - issimum, meaning “the most highly adorned” or “...decorated” or “... embellished.”

brachycercum: The Greek word roots βραχύς = brachys an adjective meaning “short” and κέρκος = kerkos or cercus, a feminine noun meaning “tail”, in reference to the very short tail in this race. Smith (1942) modified brachycercus (used as a trinomial) to brachycercum as though it were an adjective needing to agree with the neuter gender of Phrynosoma. Although nouns used in apposition to other nouns retain their own gender (only adjectives must agree in gender with the name of the genus) such that Smith’s modification of the name was unnecessary, his use of the word as an adjective must be followed. See ICZN articles 31.2.1 and 34.2.1. 
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