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Rhampholeon acuminatus MARIAUX & TILBURY, 2006

IUCN Red List - Rhampholeon acuminatus - Critically Endangered, CR

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Higher TaxaChamaeleonidae, Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Nguru pygmy chameleon 
SynonymRhampholeon (Rhinodigitum) acuminatus MARIAUX & TILBURY 2006
Rhampholeon (Rhinodigitum) acuminatus — TILBURY 2010: 161
Rhampholeon (Rhinodigitum) acuminatus — GLAW 2015
Rhampholeon acuminatus — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 249
Rhampholeon acuminatus — MENEGON et al. 2022: 97 
DistributionTanzania (Nguru mountains)

Type locality: Tanzania, Morogoro region, Nguru mountains,
Nguru South Catchment FR, Komkore Forest above Ubili village [6°2'29" S; 37°30'40.5" E], elevation 1500–1600 m.  
TypesHolotype: MHNG 2645.001 (field tag TZ 414), male, 21 October 2000. Collected by J. Mariaux & S. Loader. Paratype: PEM R16271, ZFMK 87393 (ex-MHNG 2645.003), male 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Chamaeleonidae, Rhampholeon (Rhinodigitum). With the characters of the subgenus. A small chameleon with SVL 47–57 mm (maximum TL 82 mm) and a tail 25–30% of TL. Adults are unmistakable due to their large discoid and vertically flattened rostral process (up to 5 × 3 mm) projecting forward off the rostrum (Figs 6-7), spinous supra-orbital and other cranial projections, prominent casque, exaggerated dorsal crest and numerous spines on the body, limbs
and tail. No axillary or inguinal pits. Claws bicuspid. Parietal peritoneum unpigmented.

Differential diagnosis. Among the pygmy chameleons, only Rh. spinosus presents a similar rostral process. However, Rh. spinosus has a more rounded rostral proc-
ess, numerous spiny tubercles on the gular region, a slender overall appearance, and a significantly longer tail (up to more than 40% of TL); furthermore it is not
sympatric with Rh. acuminatus. Although several other species, like Rh. uluguruensis and related taxa, also have rather conspicuous naso-rostral processes, these are more cylindrical and much smaller. Furthermore these species do not show the characteristic body spines seen in Rh. acuminatus, thus making confusion unlikely.

Amendments to the original diagnosis: Rhampholeon acuminatus has not been sequenced for the ND2 gene. For the 16S gene, it differs by having an A at position 917 and from all other species except R. beraduccii at position 1269 by having an A. (Menegon et al. 2022) 
CommentAbundance: only known from its original description (Meiri et al. 2017). 
EtymologyFrom Latin acuminare (to sharpen), in reference to the numerous sharp spines found on the head and body. 
  • CONRADIE, WERNER; WILLIAM R. BRANCH, & GILLIAN WATSON 2019. Type specimens in the Port Elizabeth Museum, South Africa, including the historically important Albany Museum collection. Part 2: Reptiles (Squamata). Zootaxa 4576 (1): 001–045 - get paper here
  • FISSEHA, MAKDA; JEAN MARIAUX, MICHELE MENEGON 2013. The “Rhampholeon uluguruensis complex” (Squamata: Chamaeleonidae) and the taxonomic status of the pygmy chameleons in Tanzania. Zootaxa 3746 (3): 439–453 - get paper here
  • Glaw, F. 2015. Taxonomic checklist of chameleons (Squamata: Chamaeleonidae). [type catalogue] Vertebrate Zoology 65 (2): 167–246 - get paper here
  • Mariaux, Jean and Colin R. Tilbury. 2006. The pygmy chameleons of the eastern Arc range (Tanzania): Evolutionary relationships and the description of three new species of Rhampholeon (Sauria: Chamaeleonidae). The Herpetological Journal 16 (3): 315-331 - get paper here
  • Meiri, Shai; Aaron M. Bauer, Allen Allison, Fernando Castro-Herrera, Laurent Chirio, Guarino Colli, Indraneil Das, Tiffany M. Doan, Frank Glaw, Lee L. Grismer, Marinus Hoogmoed, Fred Kraus, Matthew LeBreton, Danny Meirte, Zoltán T. Nagy, Cristiano d 2017. Extinct, obscure or imaginary: the lizard species with the smallest ranges. Diversity and Distributions - get paper here
  • Menegon, M., Lyakurwa, J. V., Loader, S. P., & Tolley, K. A. 2022. Cryptic diversity in pygmy chameleons (Chamaeleonidae: Rhampholeon) of the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania, with description of six new species. Acta Herpetologica, 17(2), 85-113 - get paper here
  • Müller, R. & hildenhagen, T. 2009. Untersuchungen zu Subdigital- und Subcaudalstrukturen bei Chamäleons (Sauria: Chamaeleonidae). Sauria 31 (3): 41-54 - get paper here
  • REDBOND, JAY; KATY UPTON, ANDY MEEK, TOM WILKINSON & LAUREN LANE. 2021. Captive husbandry and breeding of the Nguru spiny pygmy chameleon Rhampholeon acuminatus. The Herpetological Bulletin (158). - get paper here
  • Rovero, F., Menegon, M., Fjeldså, J., Collett, L., Doggart, N., Leonard, C., Norton, G., Owen, N., Perkin, A., Spitale, D., Ahrends, A., Burgess, N. D. 2014. Targeted vertebrate surveys enhance the faunal importance and improve explanatory models within the Eastern Arc Mountains of Kenya and Tanzania. Diversity and Distributions. doi: 10.1111/ddi.12246 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, W.; Tamm, K. & Wallikewitz, E. 2010. Chamäleons - Drachen unserer Zeit. Natur und Tier Verlag, 328 pp. [review in Reptilia 101: 64, 2013] - get paper here
  • Spawls, Steve; Kim Howell, Harald Hinkel, Michele Menegon 2018. Field Guide to East African Reptiles. Bloomsbury, 624 pp. - get paper here
  • Tilbury, C. 2010. Chameleons of Africa: An Atlas, Including the Chameleons of Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt M., 831 pp.
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