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Acanthocercus margaritae WAGNER, BUTLER, CERÍACO & BAUER, 2021

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Higher TaxaAgamidae (Agaminae), Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymAcanthocercus margaritae WAGNER, BUTLER, CERÍACO & BAUER 2021
Acanthocercus cyanocephalus — WAGNER et al. 2018: 27
Acanthocercus cyanocephalus — BRANCH et al. 2019: 313 [part]
Acanthocercus sp. — MARQUES et al. 2018: 27 [part]
Acanthocercus sp. — BUTLER et al. 2019: 235
Acanthocercus sp. — BAPTISTA et al. 2019: 107 
DistributionNamibia (N Oshana Region, adjacent W Ohangwena Region, NW Oshikoto Region), S Angola.

Type locality: near Oshikango, 200 m S of St. Mary’s Mission,” Kunene Region, Namibia [-17.471145 N, 15.935669 E]  
TypesHolotype: MCZ R190193 (Fig. 4), adult male from “collected on November 26th 2011 by A.M. Bauer, M. Heinicke, W.R. Branch and J. Marais.
Paratypes: MCZ R190194, male with the same data as the holotype; CAS 263908 (field number AMB 10159), male from Bicuar National Park, camp headquarters [-15.10161 N, 14.83986 E], Huila Province, Angola, collected on July 26th 2017 by L.M.P. Ceríaco, M. Marques, S. Bandeira, T. Julio, B. Butler, and M. Heinicke; CAS 263911 (field number AMB 9358), male from Lubango, Kimbo do Soba [-14.93419 N, 13.46925 E], Huila Province, Angola, collected on July 21st 2017 by M. Marques, L.M.P. Ceríaco, S. Bandeira, M. Heinicke, T. Julio, and B. Butler; MHNC-UP/REP 422 (field number AMB 10987), male from Matunto, Bicuar National Park [-15.36345 N, 15.28316 E], Huila Province, Angola, collected on March 10th 2018 by L.M.P. Ceríaco, M. Marques, H. Valério, S. Elizalde and D. Elizalde. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: The new species is included in the genus Acanthocercus because of the combination of a heterogeneous body scalation and a tail that is segmented in distinct whorls. Within this genus, the heterogeneous body scalation refers it to the cyanogaster/atricollis group and the high density of enlarged scales in combination with a black patch on the shoulders places it into the A. atricollis complex. Acanthocercus margaritae sp. n. is a medium sized lizard (mean SVL 112 mm [96–129 mm], mean total length 258 mm [217–299 mm]) of its genus and overall is very similar in morphology to A. atricollis and A. cyanocephalus. However, it is distinct from all other species of the complex in its meristic characters. The new species is characterized by its high numbers of scale counts (mean scale rows around midbody 136, mean dorsal scale rows 103, mean ventral scale rows 101). Displaying males are characterized by a blue coloration of the head, forelimbs, flanks of the upper part of the body and second half of the tail; a pale vertebral band, very distinct between the blue flanks and enlarged yellowish dorsal scales on the lower part of the body (Wagner et al. 2021).

Color in life: Coloration in freshly dead male animals (see Fig. 5) brownish, with a gray and black patterning and a ringed tail. Lateral and ventral parts of the head and parts of the forelimbs blue and partly gray or brown. Ventral parts of the body, limbs and tail dirty whitish with a brown patterning. In displaying males (see Fig. 6) head, fore limbs, upper parts of the flanks blue and second half of the tail brilliant blue; a pale vertebral band from the neck to the tail is present, distinct anteriorly between the blue flanks becoming more indistinct posteriorly; enlarged dorsal scales of the lower part of the body yellowish, matrix scales bluish and becoming black on the hind limbs; first half of the tail greenish. Coloration of females in life unknown (Wagner et al. 2021).

Coloration of displaying males (Fig. 7) is overall more similar to A. atricollis than to A. cyanocephalus. However, in A. margaritae sp. n. the blue coloration on the flanks is not intermixed with yellowish colored scales. The new species is clearly distinct from A. cyanocephalus and A. branchi, in that both of the latter species have a dark brown to black body coloration with intermixed yellowish to white scales and lack blue coloration on the flanks (Wagner et al. 2021).
CommentSimilar species: A. cyanocephalus; Most of the Angolan localities plotted as A. cyanocephalus by Wagner et al. (2018) may be A. margaritae sp. n. or a new species.

Distribution: see map in Wagner et al. 2021: 459 (Fig. 8). 
EtymologyThe species epithet ‘‘margaritae’’ is formed as a genitive Latin noun to honor the Greek scientist Dr. Margarita Metallinou (1985 –2015) whose promising career was tragically cut short on the 2nd of July 2015 by a wildlife encounter in Zambia. This new species is a special tribute to her memory from all the authors of this publication to recognize her enthusiasm, passion and dedication to herpetology. 
  • Baptista NL, António T, Branch WR. 2019. The herpetofauna of Bicuar National Park and surroundings, southwestern Angola: a preliminary checklist. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 13(2) [Special Section]: 96–130 (e203) - get paper here
  • Branch, William R.; Pedro Vaz Pinto, Ninda Baptista, and Werner Conradie 2019. The Reptiles of Angola: History, Diversity, Endemism and Hotspots. Chapter 13 in: B. J. Huntley et al. (eds.), Biodiversity of Angola. Springer Verlag, pp. 283-334 - get paper here
  • Butler, B O; Ceríaco, L M P; Marques, M P; Bandeira, S; Júlio, T; Heinicke, M P & Bauer, A M; 2019. Herpetological survey of Huíla Province, Southwest Angola, including first records of Bicuar National Park. Herpetological Review 50 (2): 225-240 - get paper here
  • Marques, Mariana P.; Luis M. P. Ceríaco , David C. Blackburn , and Aaron M. Bauer 2018. Diversity and Distribution of the Amphibians and Terrestrial Reptiles of Angola -- Atlas of Historical and Bibliographic Records (1840–2017). Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (Ser. 4) 65: 1-501 (Supplement II)
  • MARQUES, M. P., PARRINHA, D., SANTOS, B. S., BANDEIRA, S., BUTLER, B. O., SOUSA, A. C. A., ... & WAGNER, P. 2022. All in all it’s just another branch in the tree: A new species of Acanthocercus Fitzinger, 1843 (Squamata: Agamidae), from Angola. Zootaxa 5099 (2), 221-243 - get paper here
  • WAGNER, P., BUTLER, B.O., CERÍACO, L.M. & A.M. BAUER 2021. A new species of the Acanthocercus atricollis (SMITH,1849) complex (Squamata, Agamidae). Salamandra 57: 449–463 - get paper here
  • Wagner, Philipp; Eli Greenbaum, Aaron M Bauer, Chifundera Kusamba & Adam D Leaché 2018. Lifting the blue-headed veil – integrative taxonomy of the Acanthocercus atricollis species complex (Squamata: Agamidae). African Journal of Herpetology - get paper here
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