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Acanthodactylus montanus MIRALLES, GENIEZ, BEDDEK, MENDEZ-ARANDA, BRITO, LEBLOIS & CROCHET, 2020

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Higher TaxaLacertidae, Eremiadinae, Sauria, Lacertoidea, Squamata (lizards)
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymAcanthodactylus montanus MIRALLES, GENIEZ, BEDDEK, MENDEZ-ARANDA, BRITO, LEBLOIS & CROCHET 2020 
DistributionMorocco (SW High Atlas), elevation 2,000 m - 2,500 m

Type locality: 800 m after the Tizi n’Tichka pass towards Marrakech, southwestern High Atlas, Morocco, 31.2879°N, 7.3824°W (WGS84), 2,176 m elevation.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 2018.0026 (formerly BEV.11794, tissue sample in the BEV tissue collection, code T5771), adult male, collected on May 12th 2012, by Pierre-André Crochet and Raphaël Leblois (Fig. 8A).
Paratypes. Nine individuals, BEV.11791 to 11793, 11795 to 11800 (tissue sample codes T5768–5770, 5772– 5777), collected at the type locality at the same date by the same collectors. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A new species of the Acanthodactylus erythrurus species-group (small flat or carinated dorsal scales; three series of scales around the fingers; three entire supraoculars; 8–10, sometimes 12 straight longitudinal row of ventrals; slightly pectinate toes; undertail and underside of the hind limbs red or reddish in juveniles, subadults and young adults) from the south-western part of the High Atlas and from the Jbel Siroua above 2,000 m a.s.l., characterized by the combination of the following characters: (1) head scalation usually of the “bellii” type (subocular in large contact with the upper lip, wedged between the 4th and 5th supralabials), one internasal plate, no scales inserted between the prefrontals, but BEV.T11828 has no contact between the left supralabial and the lip; (2) a low number of dorsal scales (47–59 longitudinal rows around the body, mean 54.0), femoral pores (17–23, mean 19.9) on each side and subdigital lamellae (19–22, mean 19.9) on the 4th toe; (3) one or one and a half row of supraciliary granules on each side with a very reduced number (15–46, mean 25.7) of scales and granules around the 2nd and 3rd supraoculars on each side; (4) temporals smooth or slightly keeled; (5) dorsal scales smooth or slightly keeled on the neck and progressively turning to distinctly tectiform or sometimes keeled on the back; (6) stocky proportions, especially in adults, with a relatively short tail (57.9–65.9% of the total length, mean 60.8%, almost always longer for all the other Acanthodactylus of the erythrurus group except lacrymae); (7) base of the tail of adult males very thick; (8) in juveniles, underparts of the tail orange red to intense coral red, slightly paler under the base of the tail, even paler under the rear of the thighs, this colour usually not reaching the rows of femoral pores; (9) some marginal ventral plates yellow of yellowish in adult and subadult males and females, sometimes in juveniles; (10) a series of small round ocelli on the flanks (each one containing 4–9 brightly coloured scales), usually yellow greenish in adults, which tend to disappear completely in adult females.
Body coloration similar to the other members of the Acanthodactylus erythrurus group. Juveniles are very dark (black or blackish) with three pale continuous lines on each side of the body (one on lower flanks, one at the junction between the dorsum and the flanks and one on the dorsum joining with the opposite one on the tail base) and a dark vertebral area dissected by a paler narrow vertebral area, frequently split on the nape by dark spots or a dark line and disappearing before the base of the tail; one or two series of pale ocelli are found in the dark interspaces between these stripes (juveniles of the other lineages are usually paler and lack the bifurcation of the pale central vertebral area on the nape). Adults are medium brown with faint pale lines on the dorsum and upper flanks (corresponding to the juvenile pattern) and a better marked line on the lower flanks; irregular dark marks are present on the back between the pale lines, sometimes invading the area on the centre of the dorsum. The flanks typically appear darker due to the large dark areas surrounding each pale ocellus. The pileus presents a complex pattern of pale and dark reticulations in juvenile; in adults it is of the same colour as the back with isolated irregular dark spots.
Very similar to the allopatric Acanthodactylus lacrymae and single individuals are not always possible to separate but differs on average by the following characters: (1) in juveniles, parietals are less clearly striped but exhibit a more reticulated pattern; (2) orange red coloration on the undertail fading less toward tail base and more extensive around the cloacal slit; (3) supralabials usually with diffuse dark vertical stripes (uniformly pale creamy, even in juveniles, in A. lacrymae); (4) contrast between the lower border of the flanks and tail side and under surface of the belly and tail usually less marked in adults, especially along the sides of the tail; (5) temporal less flat and dorsal scales slightly killed in adults (smooth in A. lacrymae except sometimes on the rear of the back); (6) some specimens have one and a half row of supraciliary granules on each side (always one row in A. lacrymae) and with a larger number of scales and granules around the 2nd and 3rd supraoculars (maximum 46 against maximum 29 in A. lacrymae).
 
CommentDistribution: See map in Miralles et al. 2020: 321 (Fig. 10). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet montanus is a Latin adjective meaning “of mountains, belonging to mountains”, the high mountains of the Western High Atlas being the unique habitat where this species has been found until now. 
References
  • MIRALLES, AURÉLIEN; PHILIPPE GENIEZ, MENAD BEDDEK, DANIEL MENDEZ ARANDA, JOSÉ CARLOS BRITO, RAPHAËL LEBLOIS, PIERRE-ANDRÉ CROCHET 2020. Morphology and multilocus phylogeny of the Spiny-footed Lizard (Acanthodactylus erythrurus) complex reveal two new mountain species from the Moroccan Atlas. Zootaxa 4747 (2): 302–326 - get paper here
 
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