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Tropidosaura cottrelli (HEWITT, 1925)

IUCN Red List - Tropidosaura cottrelli - Near Threatened, NT

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Higher TaxaLacertidae, Eremiadinae, Sauria, Lacertoidea, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Cottrell's Mountain Lizard 
SynonymBasutosaura cottrelli HEWITT 1925: 356
Tropidosaura cottrelli — FITZSIMONS 1943: 307
Tropidosaura cottrelli — BATES et al. 2014: 177 
DistributionSouth Africa, Lesotho (Drakensberg)

Type locality: Nemahedi Camp, nr. Mont aux Sources, Basutoland  
TypesHolotype: PEM R16093; (formerly AMG, fide FITZSIMONS 1943: 309) 
DiagnosisOriginal description: “Snout rather elongated. Head, including occiput, flattened above: canthus rostralis rounded: loreal region very slightly concave: a fairly sharp keel below the eye on the frenoocular and subocular shields. Nostril in the inferoposterior portion of a single nasal which is separated from its fellow owing to the meeting of the rostral and frontonasal. Only a very narrow rim separates the nostril from the postnasal, but the former is more widely separated from the lower labial. Postnasal as broad as the anterior loreal, well separated from the rostral, but in contact below with both first and second labials and above with the frontonasal. Suture between nasal and postnasal is well posterior to that between rostral and first labial which latter suture lies just below the anterior border of the nostril. Frontal as long as its distance from the end of the snout. Interparietal shield narrowing considerably behind (more so than in montana), its hinder half raised into a slight median ridge. A small occipital shield in contact with the interparietal and its hind border in a line with that of the parietals. Between the supraoculars and supraciliaries just above the posterior portion of the eye is a pair of elongated granules. First supraocular separated from the posterior loreal by an elongated granule on the left side: on the other side there is no such granule, the prefrontal alone intervening between loreal and supraocular. The three large supraoculars more or less as in montana but the second is distinctly broader than long. Third supraocular in good contact with the frontoparietal. Second supraciliary much longer than the others. An enlarged tympanic scale on the superoanterior border of the ear opening: this is the hindermost of a row of six enlarged scales in the temporal region. Between this row and the two enlarged supratemporals on each side are two rows of smaller scales: and below that row also are one or two rows of smaller scales. All the scales on the head and temporal region are smooth: the parietals and frontoparietals however are very faintly corrugate. Pineal spot inconspicuous. The head, scales are followed on the neck by four or five transverse rows of small simple scales: these pass into the fairly large rhombic keeled and imbricating scales which extend over the remainder of the dorsal surfaces: the apex of each scale is acute, but the keel is not continued to a sharp point as in montana. At the middle of the body a transverse row has about 22 such keeled scales. Laterally these keeled scales pass into smooth lateral scales of which there are about four rows: these scales increase a little in size as they approach the ventrals. Sides of neck with small subgranular scales. Three anterior pairs of chin-shields in contact: gular scales rather small but imbricate, not granular. There is a transverse row of still smaller scales across the throat between the ears: this gular fold would be scarcely noticeable but that it forms a blackish cross-streak. From this row up to the chin-shields about eight scales can be counted along the midline : and from the same row up to the large breast scales about ten scales occur along the midline. Behind this row, the numerous scales of the throat gradnally increase in size and merge into those of the breast. The breast scales are more or less subequal in size, but the ventral scales of the body are in six longitudinal rows of which the innermost and outermost pairs are composed of scales not much broader than long, whilst the remaining pair is of scales quite twice as broad as long. Of these broadest ventral scales about 21 occur in each row. A large median pre-anal plate bordered in front by a semicircle of six scales of which the two middle ones are by far the largest. Eleven femoral pores on each side. The adpressed hind-limb not quite reaching the axilla. Digits slightly compressed laterally, with smooth lamellae inferiorly: some of these lamellae are faintly furrowed, but there are no keels. Scales on upper surface of thigh smooth, of tibia rather weakly keeled. Greater portion of tail wanting in the specimen.” (Hewitt 1925)

Colour: “very dark almost black above with numerous small spots, some light brown, others pale green or pale blue: these occur on head, body and limbs without definite arrangement but tending to form incomplete cross stripes posteriorly. Sides of body pale blue divided by a longitudinal blackish streak which continues along the neck to the margin of the upper lip. Ventral surfaces pale blue:profusely spotted with black, the black predominating on the belly.” (Hewitt 1925) 
CommentSympatry: Eremias burchelli, Pseudocordylus microlepidotus and Trimerorhinus rhombeatus (fide Hewitt 1925). 
EtymologyNamed after John Awdry Cottrell (b. 1904), a South African naturalist and ornithologist who collected the holotype (1925). 
  • Bates, M.F.; Branch, W.R., Bauer, A.M.; Burger, M., Marais, J.; Alexander, G.J. & de Villliers, M.S. (eds.) 2014. Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, 512 pp.
  • Bates, Michael F. 2013. Geographic distribution: Tropidosaura cottrelli (Hewitt, 1925) Cottrell's Mountain Lizard. African Herp News (60): 26-28 - 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
  • Branch, W.R 1985. Geographical Distribution - Tropidosaura cottrelli. J. Herp. Assoc. Africa (31): 26-26 - get paper here
  • 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
  • FitzSimons, V.F. 1943. The lizards of South Africa. Transvaal Museum Memoir No.1 (Pretoria), 528 pp.
  • Hewitt, J. 1925. On some new species of Reptiles and Amphibians from South Africa. Rec. Albany Mus. (Grahamstown) 3: 343-370
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