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Abronia gaiophantasma CAMPBELL & FROST, 1993

IUCN Red List - Abronia gaiophantasma - Endangered, EN

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Higher TaxaAnguidae (Gerrhonotinae), Diploglossa, Anguimorpha, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Brilliant Arboreal Alligator Lizard 
SynonymAbronia (Auriculabronia) gaiophantasma CAMPBELL & FROST 1993
Abronia gaiophantasma — KÖHLER 2000
Abronia gaiophantasma — EISERMANN & ACEVEDO 2016 
DistributionNE Guatemala (elevation: 1600-2350 m)

Type locality: “cloud forest at 1600 m elevation on the west slope of Cerro Verde in the vicinity of La Unión Barrios, Baja Verapaz, Guatemala.” (approximately 15°11' N, 90° 12' W.)  
TypesHolotype: UTA R19646 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: “A species of Abronia having: (1) supra-auricular scales of subadults and adults spinelike; (2) supranasals relatively small and unexpanded, not in contact at the dorsal midline; (3) frontonasal scale present, not contacting frontal; (4) posterior internasals relatively small, only slightly larger than the anterior internasals; (5) canthals discrete; (6) three or four anterior temporals per side, usually the lower two (rarely one) contacting the postoculars; (7) parietal not in contact with median supraoculars; (8) usually a single occipital; (9) posterolateral head scales not knoblike; (10) anterior superciliary contacting cantholoreal, similar in length to other scales in series; (11) posterior subocular broadly separated from the lower primary temporal by the penultimate supralabial, the posteriormost scale in this series to reach the orbit; (12) two or occasionally three incomplete rows of subimbricate preauricular scales; (13) postmental single or divided; (14) posteriormost infralabial not elongate; (15) six longitudinal nuchal scale rows; (16) 28-30 dorsal transverse scale rows; (17) 12 dorsal longitudinal scale rows, arranged parallel to ventrolateral fold; (18) 14-16 ventral longitudinal scale rows; (19) adults tan, brown, gray-brown, or reddish brown (fig. 11A); (20) juveniles and subadults with dark brown crossbands (fig. 11 B). This species differs from other species of Abronia occurring east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in having 12 (versus 14 or more) dorsal longitudinal scale rows. Abronia gaiophantasma (fig. 11A, B) differs from all Nuclear Central American species, except A. salvadorensis, A. matudai females, and some individuals of A. lythrochila in having an essentially brown dorsal coloration, with or without dark crossbands. Abronia gaiophantasma differs from A. salvadorensis in lacking a fourth row of temporal scales, having distinct supra-auricular spines; from A. matudai in having unexpanded supranasals, in usually having 3-4 anterior temporals (versus usually 2), in having 14-16 ventral longitudinal scale rows (versus 12), iN having distinct supraauricular spinelike scales, and in lacking contact between the parietals and the median supraoculars; and from A. lythrochila in having smaller lateral neck scales, having larger scales in the temporal region, lacking multiple rows of granular preauriculars, and lacking red pigment on the upper edge of the infralabials.” (Campbell & Frost 1993: 20) 
CommentSimilar species: Several specimens that have been identified as A. aurita are actually A. gaiophantasma. 
EtymologyThe specific name is a noun in apposition, derived from the Greek, gaio (earth)+ phantasma (spirit or phantom), in reference to the general overall coloration of this species and its similarity in hue to the reddish brown lateritic clays of the region the species inhabits clays that are becoming increasingly evident as theforests are felled concomitant with human encroachment. 
  • Campbell J A; Frost D R 1993. Anguid lizards of the genus Abronia: revisionary notes, descriptions of four new species, a phylogenetic analysis, and key. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 216: 1-121 - get paper here
  • Campbell, Jonathan A., Mahmood Sasa, Manuel Acevedo and Joseph R. Mendelson, III. 1998. A new species of Abronia (Squamata: Anguidae) from the High Cuchumatanes of Guatemala. Herpetologica 54 (2): 221-234. - get paper here
  • Eisermann, Knut, and Manuel Acevedo. 2016. A new locality for the Endangered Abronia gaiophantasma Campbell and Frost, 1993 (Squamata: Anguidae) in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, with notes on morphology. Mesoamerican Herpetology 3(4): 1085–1089 - get paper here
  • Franzen,M. & Haft, J. 1999. Range Extension and Morphological Variation in Abronia gaiophantasma Campbell and Frost (Sauria: Anguidae). Carib. J. Sci. 35 (1-2): 151-153
  • Köhler, G. 2000. Reptilien und Amphibien Mittelamerikas, Bd 1: Krokodile, Schildkröten, Echsen. Herpeton Verlag, Offenbach, 158 pp.
  • Köhler, G. 2008. Reptiles of Central America. 2nd Ed. Herpeton-Verlag, 400 pp.
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