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Abronia morenica CLAUSE, LUNA-REYES & NIETO-MONTES DE OCA, 2020

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Higher TaxaAnguidae (Gerrhonotinae), Diploglossa, Anguimorpha, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Sierra Morena Arboreal Alligator Lizards
S: Dragoncitos de Sierra Morena 
SynonymAbronia morenica CLAUSE, LUNA-REYES & NIETO-MONTES DE OCA 2020 
DistributionMexico (Chiapas: Sierra Madre de Chiapas)

Type locality: ca. 1 km NW of the peak of Cerro Bola on an interior slope of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, municipality of Tonalá, Chiapas, México (approx. 16.14°N, 93.61°W; datum = WGS84), 1750 m elevation.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. MZFC HE 33487 (field number AGC 1318), adult male, collected on 3 August 2018 by A.G. Clause, R. Martínez-Padilla, and J.D. Hunt.
Paratypes. Six specimens collected 29 July–6 August 2018 and 21 July 2019: MZFC-HE 33484 (adult male), MZFC-HE 33485 (adult male), MZFC-HE 33488 (subadult male), and MZFC-HE 34400 (neonate), all within ca. 1 km of the type locality in the municipality of Tonalá but on both sides of the Continental Divide, 1735–1755 m elevation; MZFC-HE 33486, a juvenile female from the Continental Divide ca. 3 km S of the peak of Cerro Tres Picos, municipality of Villa Corzo (16.178N, 93.608W), 1800 m elevation; and MZFC-HE 33490, an adult male from ca. 1 km NE of the peak of Cerro Bola on an interior slope, municipality of Villa Corzo (16.14°N, 93.60°W), 1480 m elevation. All locality data presented in this and the preceding paragraph are masked; see first paragraph of Conservation subsection in Clause et al. 2020 for details. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Abronia morenica sp. nov. can be distinguished from all described congeners by the following combination of characters: (1) supra-auricular scales granular, not protuberant or spine-like; (2) posterolateral head scales not protuberant or casque-like; (3) 30–35 transverse dorsal scale rows; (4) lateralmost row of ventral scales enlarged relative to adjacent medial row; (5) dorsum brown with 8–10 transverse dark crossbands, albeit often indistinct; (6) prominent dark bar on lateral surface of neck, extending from shoulder to near auricular opening.

Comparisons. Abronia morenica sp. nov can be differentiated from each recognized subgenus within Abronia as follows, with character state(s) for each subgenus in parentheses and subgeneric synapomorphies (if they exist) denoted by italics. Unlike the subgenus Scopaeabronia, the new species has the lower primary temporal unexpanded (expanded), 6 longitudinal nuchal scale rows (8 rows), and 30–35 transverse dorsal scale rows (38–47 rows). Unlike the subgenus Auriculabronia, the new species lacks strongly protuberant or spine-like supra-auricular scales (present). Within the subgenus Auriculabronia, the new species further differs from A. matudai (a species in which the supra-auricular scales are sometimes barely protuberant) in having a dark lateral bar on the neck present (absent), and dorsum brown with dark crossbands in adult males (green with no crossbands in adult males). Unlike the subgenus Abronia, the new species has the lateralmost row of ventral scales distinctly enlarged relative to the adjacent medial row (not enlarged). Within the subgenus Abronia, the new species further differs from the A. deppii group (A. deppii, A. martindelcampoi, A. mixteca, A. oaxacae, and A. cuetzpali as defined by Campbell et al. 2016, contra Campbell and Frost 1993) in having dorsal scales on the flanks arranged in parallel longitudinal rows relative to the ventrolateral fold (oblique longitudinal rows). Unlike the subgenus Aenigmabronia, the new species has one or three occipital scales (two occipitals), and two or three scale rows separating the occipital scale(s) from the first transverse nuchal scale row (one scale row separating the occipitals from the nuchals).
Unlike the subgenus Abaculabronia, the new species has a brown dorsum with dark crossbands in life in adults (dorsum olive green with pale or yellow scale margins and no trace of crossbands in life in adults), and supranasal scales in contact in only 1/7 or 14% of specimens (supranasals in contact in 8/ 9 or 89% of specimens). Unlike the subgenus Lissabronia, the new species has the frontonasal scale contacting the frontal scale in 5/7 or 71% of specimens (no frontonasal– frontal contact). In addition, the new species minimally differs from each of the three existing species within Lissabronia as follows (character state of the existing species within parentheses): unlike A. frosti, the new species has 4 primary temporal scales (2) and 12 longitudinal ventral scale rows (14–16); unlike A. montecristoi, the new species has a dark lateral bar on the neck present (absent) and yellow or orange spots on the flanks present (absent); unlike A. salvadorensis, the new species has yellow or orange spots on the flanks present (absent). Table 1 presents additional characters that differentiate members of Lissabronia from A. morenica sp. nov. and from each other.
The subgenus to which A. morenica sp. nov. belongs is difficult to ascertain with confidence. However, Clause et al. tentatively assign it to Lissabronia because, unlike for all other subgenera, no characters cleanly separate the new species from Lissabronia based on the diagnosis provided by Campbell et al. (1998). See also Discussion in Clause et al. 2020. 
CommentActivity: diurnal

Habitat: arboreal

Syntopy: Anolis matudai, Sceloporus formosus group, Drymobius chloroticus, Leptophis mexicanus, Tropidodipsas fischeri. 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is a feminine adjective in the singular nominative case derived from the Spanish masculine adjective moreno, which in English roughly translates as dark-haired and/or brown-skinned. This choice refers to the unusual brown dorsal habitus in adult males of this species. The name also extends indirect recognition to the Sierra Morena ejido, whose lands within the Reserva de la Biósfera La Sepultura support the species’ only confirmed populations. 
References
  • Clause, A. G., Luna-Reyes, R. & Nieto-Montes De Oca, A. 2020. A New Species of Abronia (Squamata: Anguidae) from a Protected Area in Chiapas, Mexico. Herpetologica 76 (3): 330-343 - get paper here
 
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