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Tympanocryptis rustica MELVILLE, CHAPLIN, HIPSLEY, SARRE, SUMNER & HUTCHINSON, 2019

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Higher TaxaAgamidae (Amphibolurinae), Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Tennant Creek Pebble Dragon 
SynonymTympanocryptis rustica MELVILLE, CHAPLIN, HIPSLEY, SARRE, SUMNER & HUTCHINSON 2019: 28 
DistributionAustralia (Northern Territory)

Type locality: Warrego Road, N of Tennant Creek, 3 km W of Stuart Highway, Northern Territory, 19°3505700 S, 134°0903700 E.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. NMV D74671, adult male. Collected by J. Melville and A. O’Grady, September 2009. Paratypes. NMV D74688, Warrego Road, N of Tennant Creek, approximately 12 km W of Stuart Highway, Northern Territory; 19°3303100 S, 134°0601200 E, female; D74670, D74672, D74684, Warrego Road, N of Tennant Creek, 3 km W of Stuart Highway, Northern Territory, 19°3505700 S, 134°0903700 E, adult males; D74693-94, Binns Road, 1 km W of turnoff to Whistleduck Creek, Northern Territory, 20°2801800 S, 134°4605000 E, adult males; SAMA R38823, Tennant Creek Rubbish Dump, Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, 19°390 S, 134°110 E, female; R53990, Tennant Creek Rubbish Dump, Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, 19°3903500 S, 134°1003500 E, juvenile. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A species of Tympanocryptis with rostral scale separated from the canthus rostralis, nasal scale extending dorsally across the canthus and bordered below by enlarged scales, no lateral neck fold, keeled dorsal head scales, enlarged dorsal spinous scales roughly aligned longitudinally, keeled ventrals but smooth throat scales and both sexes weakly patterned or patternless dorsally, and white ventrally.

Comparison with other species. Tympanocryptis rustica is closely related to and most similar to T. centralis. It differs in its more extremely reduced patterning, and smoother throat scalation. It overlaps with T. tetraporophora, from which it can be distinguished by its lack of femoral pores and snout morphology, the rostral not contacting the canthus rostralis in T. rustica, but smoothly contacting it in T. tetraporophora 
CommentHabitat. Occurs on arid stone deserts or loams with scattered stones and spinifex grass (Triodia spp.) associated with desert ranges. Has been observed perching on small stones in the open and fleeing into nearby spinifex grass when alarmed. Will also freeze in the open when alarmed, its appearance closely matching and blending with the pebbles-strewn ground surface in a similar manner to other members of the pebble earless dragon group (Melville et al. 2019: 29).

Distribution: see map in Melville et al. 2019: 6 (Fig. 1: species E) 
Etymology 
References
  • Melville J, Chaplin K, Hipsley CA, Sarre SD, Sumner J, Hutchinson M. 2019. Integrating phylogeography and high-resolution X-ray CT reveals five new cryptic species and multiple hybrid zones among Australian earless dragons. R. Soc. open sci. 6: 191166 - get paper here
 
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