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Urosaurus nigricauda (COPE, 1864)

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Higher TaxaPhrynosomatidae, Sceloporinae, Iguania, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Small-scaled Lizard [microscutatus]
S: Roñito de Matorral Cola-negra 
SynonymUta nigricaudus COPE 1864: 176
Uta nigricauda — BOULENGER 1885: 212
Uta microscutata VAN DENBURGH 1894
Uta parviscutata COPE 1900: 324 (nom. subst. pro Uta microscutata)
Urosaurus nigricaudus — MITTLEMAN 1942: 157
Urosaurus microscutatus — MITTLEMAN 1942: 159
Urosaurus nigricaudus — SMITH & TAYLOR 1950: 145
Urosaurus microscutatus — SMITH & TAYLOR 1950: 145
Urosaurus microscutatus — BOSTIC 1971
Urosaurus microscutatus — RAU 1977
Urosaurus microscutatus — STEBBINS 1985: 137
Urosaurus nigricaudus — STEBBINS 1985: 238
Urosaurus nigricaudus — LINER 1994
Urosaurus microscutatus — LINER 1994
Urosaurus nigricaudus — GRISMER 1999
Urosaurus nigricaudus — COLLINS & TAGGART 2009
Urosaurus nigricauda — BÖHME & DENZER 2019 (by implication)
Urosaurus nigricaudus — HEIMES 2022
Urosaurus nigricauda — HEIMES 2022
Urosaurus nigricaudus — PERALTA-GARCÍA et al. 2023 
Distributionnigricaudus: Mexico (Baja California Sur, adjacent islands: Espiritu Santo, Ballena, San José, Islas Las Islitas, Las Tijeras, Isla Pardo, Islas Los Candeleros [HR 28(1)], Magdalena ?)

microscutatus: USA (S California), Mexico (Baja California, Islands of San Francisco, San José, Danzante, Coronado, Carmen, San Marcos, Santa Magdalena). Type locality: San Pedro Mártir Mountains, Baja California.

Type locality: Cape San Lucas, Baja California.  
TypesSyntypes: USNM 5307, 69419, 69420 etc (nigricaudus)
Holotype: CAS-SUR 1221 (Stanford Univ. Mus. 1221) [microscutatus] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Enlarged dorsals in seven to ten rows, commencing about equal to the insertions of the fore-limbs, and extending posteriorly to the sacrum; median rows of dorsals largest, and progressively diminishing in size as they extend laterally; enlarged dorsals prominently keeled, imbricate, rounded posteriorly; seventeen to twenty-four of the largest dorsals equal to the length of head from tip of snout to posterior border of the interparietal; dorsolateral and lateral folds usually present, nearly always crested with enlarged, spinose scales; usually several lateral clusters of enlarged tubercles; frontal usually entire, sometimes transversely divided; enlarged femorals and tibials larger than any of thedorsals; ventrals mucronate on the gular fold, pectoral,andlateral areas, but rounded elsewhere. Coloration (alcoholic) of male topotype: dorsum of body, limbs, head and tail ranging from grayish to darkbrown; limbs and tail ringed with narrow bands of dark brown to black; head finely lined with dark brown; body with nine alternating short bars which extend from the dorsolateral fold to about the median line of the back; dorsal bars about two or three scales wide, and of a dark brown color, edged with pale blue posteriorly; labial regions flecked with gray, as is also the gular region save for a light central area which is a pale tan; pectoral region flecked rather heavily with gray, as are also the undersides of the limbs and tail; abdomen with two elongate sky blue patches which are partially fused medially; preanal region with a blue wash; abdominal and lateral areas necked with numerous individual scales which are a paler blue than the remainder of the body. Measurements of fifty specimens, both sexes: head length, 10.35 mm; head width, 7.75 mm; snout to vent, 42.0 mm; hind leg, 28.0 mm; tail, 66.0 mm (Mittleman 1942: 157). 
CommentUrosaurus nigricaudus and U. microscutatus differ consistently in male throat coloration (usually blue in microscutatus, orange to gray in nigricaudus) and other characters. However, L.L. Grismer (cited in Wiens 1993) has observed specimens that are morphologically intermediate between these two “species”. Aguirre et al. (1999) suggest to synonymize U. microscutatus with Urosaurus nigricaudus lahtelai based on genetic evidence. GRISMER (1999) also synonymized the two species based on morphological intermediates. Feldman et al. (2011) confirm the uncertain status of U. microscutatus but express concern “that U. microscutatus is being dismissed prematurely”, hence they treat it as different in their tree and range map.

Distribution: see map in Feldman et al. 2011.

Genome: Davalos-Dehullu et al. 2023. 
EtymologyNamed after the black (or dark) tail (Latin “niger, nigra, nigrum” = black and Latin “cauda” = tail). Note that cauda is a noun in apposition, hence it is -cauda, not -caudus as in most previous publications (see also Böhme and Denzer 2019). 
  • Aguirre L., Gustavo, David J. Morafka and Robert W. Murphy. 1999. The peninsular archipelago of Baja California: a thousand kilometers of tree lizard genetics. Herpetologica 55 (3): 369-381 - get paper here
  • Álvarez, Jeff A. et al. 2020. Bifurcation in the tail of the Black-tailed Brush Lizard (Urosaurus nigricaudus) in northern Baja California, Mexico. Sonoran Herpetologist 33 (3): 81 - get paper here
  • Böhme, W. & Denzer, W. 2019. Warum die Endungen adjektivischer Artnamen dem Geschlecht der Gattungsnamen angepasst werden müssen Sauria 41 (1): 55–62 - get paper here
  • Bostic, D. L. 1971. Herpetofauna of the Pacific Coast of north central Baja California, Mexico, with a description of a new subspecies of Phyllodactylus xanti. Transactions of the San Diego Society of Natural History, 16:237—263 - 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
  • Cope, E.D. 1864. Contributions to the herpetology of tropical America. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 16: 166-181. - 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
  • Davalos-Dehullu, Elizabeth; Sarah M Baty, Robert N Fisher, Peter A Scott, Greer A Dolby, Adrian Munguia-Vega, Diego Cortez 2023. Chromosome-Level Genome Assembly of the Blacktail Brush Lizard, Urosaurus nigricaudus, Reveals Dosage Compensation in an Endemic Lizard. Genome Biology and Evolution, 15 (12): evad210 - get paper here
  • Feldman, Chris R.; Oscar Flores-Villela, Theodore J. Papenfuss 2011. Phylogeny, biogeography, and display evolution in the tree and brush lizard genus Urosaurus (Squamata: Phrynosomatidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 61 (3): 714-725 - get paper here
  • Galina-Tessaro, Patricia, Alfredo Ortega-Rubio and Sergio Alvarez-Cárdenas. 2000. Diet of the Black-tailed Brush Lizard Urosaurus nigricaudus of the Cape Region, baja California Sur, México. Herpetological Natural History 7(1):35-40
  • Grismer, L. Lee. 1999. An evolutionary classification of reptiles on islands in the Gulf of California, México. Herpetologica 55 (4): 446-469 - get paper here
  • Heimes, P. 2022. LIZARDS OF MEXICO - Part 1 Iguanian lizards. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt Am Main, 448 pp.
  • 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
  • Leviton, Alan E.; Banta, Benjamin H. 1964. Midwinter reconnaissance of the herpetofauna of the Cape Region of Baja California, Mexico. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. 30 (7): 127-156 - get paper here
  • Lindell, Johan; Fausto R. Méndez-de la Cruz and Robert W. Murphy 2008. Deep biogeographical history and cytonuclear discordance in the black-tailed brush lizard (Urosaurus nigricaudus) of Baja California. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 94: 89–104 - get paper here
  • Liner, Ernest A. 2007. A CHECKLIST OF THE AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES OF MEXICO. Louisiana State University Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural Science 80: 1-60 - get paper here
  • Mittleman,M.B. 1942. A summary of the iguanid genus Urosaurus. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 91: 105-181 - get paper here
  • Munguia-Vega, A., R. Rodriguez-Estrella, M.W. Nachman, W. Shaw, and M. Culver. 2009. Habitat loss and fragmentation in the Sonoran Desert and its impact on the genetic structure and extinction risk of the Baja California endemic Black-tailed Brush Lizard (Urosaurus nigricaudus). Sonoran Herpetologist 22 (6):62-65. - get paper here
  • Peralta-García A, Valdez-Villavicencio JH, Fucsko LA, Hollingsworth BD, Johnson JD, Mata-Silva V, Rocha A, DeSantis DL, Porras LW, and Wilson LD. 2023. The herpetofauna of the Baja California Peninsula and its adjacent islands, Mexico: composition, distribution, and conservation status. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 17(1&2): 57–142
  • Rau,C.S. & Loomis,R.B. 1977. A new species of Urosaurus (Reptilia, Lacertilia, Iguanidae) from Baja California, Mexico. Journal of Herpetology 11 (1): 25-29 - get paper here
  • Stebbins,R.C. 1985. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, 2nd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston
  • Van Denburgh,J. 1894. Descriptions of three new lizards from California and ower California, with a note on Phrynonsoma blainvillii. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (Ser. 2), 4: 296-301 - get paper here
  • Van Denburgh,J. 1895. A review of the herpetology of Lower California. Part I - Reptiles. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (2) 5: 77-163 - get paper here
  • Wiens, J.J. 1993. Phylogenetic systematics of the tree lizards (genus Urosaurus). Herpetologica 49 (4): 399-420 - get paper here
  • Wong, Humberto; Grismer, L. Lee; Hollingsworth, Bradford D.; Cryder, Michael R. 1997. Geographic Distribution. Urosaurus nigricaudus. Herpetological Review 28 (1): 51 - get paper here
  • Zweifel, Richard G. 1958. Results of the Puritan-American Museum of Natural History Expedition to western Mexico 2. Notes on reptiles and amphibians from the Pacific Coastal Islands of Baja California. American Museum Novitates (1895): 1-17 - get paper here
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