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Varanus hamersleyensis MARYAN, OLIVER, FITCH & O’CONNELL, 2014

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Higher TaxaVaranidae, Platynota, Varanoidea, Anguimorpha, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Southern Pilbara Rock Goanna
G: Südlicher Pilbara Felsenwaran 
SynonymVaranus hamersleyensis MARYAN, OLIVER, FITCH & O’CONNELL 2014
Varanus (Odatria) hamersleyensis — BUCKLITSCH et al. 2016: 50 
DistributionAustralia (Hamersley Range, Western Australia)

Type locality: Hamersley Range, Weeli Wolli Creek (22°52'40"S 119°14'24"E), Western Australia, Australia  
Reproductionoviparous (manual imputation, fide Zimin et al. 2022) 
TypesHolotype: WAM R145733, male, R. Teale & G. Harold, 28 April 2003. Fixed in 10% formalin, stored in 70% ethanol, liver sample stored in –80°C ultrafreezer at WAM. Paratypes: All from Western Australia. WAM R125456 (male)—30 km E Newman (23°19'S 120°02'E); WAM R125766 (female)—Circular Pool, Dales Gorge (22°38'36"S 118°33'47"E); WAM R129628 (male)—120 km NW Newman (22°55'S 119°01'E); WAM R140734 (female)—Rocklea Station (22°56'55"S 117°16'07"E); WAM R164579 (male)—8.5 km NE Mount Rica (21°57'08"S 116°29'18"E). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis and comparison. Differs from all Australian congeners by the following combination of characters: size moderately small (SVL up to 160 mm); slender build; tail long (between 168–207% of SVL) and thin, circular in cross section at midpoint, midbody scales 120–122; dorsal and lateral scales weakly keeled, enlarged keeled ventrolateral scales on each side of and posterior to vent in 4–6 rows, scales on top of head smooth; supraoculars gradually merging with larger interoculars; dorsal scales elongate, ovate; nostrils high and oriented dorsolaterally, dorsal and lateral surfaces of body with subdued irregular dark brown to black spots or vermiculations on a dark reddish-brown background, small ocelli on the dorsal surface of the hindlimbs only, and tail without prominent dark bands.
Varanus hamersleyensis sp. nov. differs from its sister species V. pilbarensis in its overall darker colouration, presence of small whitish ocelli usually on the dorsal surface of the limbs only (v. large greyish ocelli on the dorsal and lateral surfaces of body and limbs), largely unbanded tail (v. strongly banded tail) and smaller and less elongate dorsal scales (Fig. 3B in MARYAN et al. 2014). 
CommentSimilar species: this species was previously considered as the southern clade of Varanus pilbarensis. Both species may interbred, at least in captivity (Vega & Koch 2017).

Habitat: Varanus hamersleyensis sp. nov. is strictly saxicolous and closely associated with rocky habitats such as banded ironstone rock faces and gorges. It shelters in overhangs, crevices, cavities and occasionally under exfoliated rock slabs. Typical vegetation on these faces varies, but often includes Eucalyptus and Triodia (Spinifex). Field observations indicate a preference for flat, horizontal sheet ironstone with an east- west aspect to allow optimum basking in the morning. 
EtymologyNamed for the Hamersley Range of Western Australia, the region to which it is restricted. This is the most prominent mountainous area in Western Australia (including Mount Meharry, 1245 m, and the highest peak in the state) and home to a suite of endemic taxa. Used as a noun in apposition. 
  • Ellis, R.J. 2018. An annotated type catalogue of varanid lizards (Reptilia: Squamata: Varanidae) in the collection of the Western Australian Museum. Rec. West. Aust. Mus. 33:187-194, DOI: 10.18195/issn.0312-3162.33(2).2018.187-194 - get paper here
  • MARYAN, BRAD; PAUL M. OLIVER, ALISON J. FITCH & MORGAN O’CONNELL 2014. Molecular and morphological assessment of Varanus pilbarensis (Squamata: Varanidae), with a description of a new species from the southern Pilbara, Western Australia. Zootaxa 3768 (2): 139–158 - get paper here
  • VEGA, ALVARO CAMINA & ANDRE KOCH 2017. First Breeding Report of the Pilbara Rock Monitor (Varanus pilbarensis Storr, 1980) in Spain with Taxonomic Comments on the Recently Described V. hamersleyensis Maryan et al., 2014. Biawak 11 (1): 19-27 - get paper here
  • Zimin, A., Zimin, S. V., Shine, R., Avila, L., Bauer, A., Böhm, M., Brown, R., Barki, G., de Oliveira Caetano, G. H., Castro Herrera, F., Chapple, D. G., Chirio, L., Colli, G. R., Doan, T. M., Glaw, F., Grismer, L. L., Itescu, Y., Kraus, F., LeBreton 2022. A global analysis of viviparity in squamates highlights its prevalence in cold climates. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 00, 1–16 - get paper here
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