Bachia whitei MURPHY, SALVI, SANTOS, BRASWELL, CHARLES, BORZÉE & JOWERS, 2019
Can you confirm these amateur observations of Bachia whitei?
|Higher Taxa||Gymnophthalmidae (Cercosaurinae, Bachiinae), Sauria, Gymnophthalmoidea, Squamata (lizards)|
|Common Names||E: White’s Bachia|
|Synonym||Bachia whitei MURPHY, SALVI, SANTOS, BRASWELL, CHARLES, BORZÉE & JOWERS 2019|
Bachia cf. flavescens — HARDY 1982: 78
Bachia flavescens —MURPHY 1997: 133
Type locality: Hillsborough Dam, Tobago (11°13′ 32′′N, 60°40′ 10′′W).
|Types||Holotype USNM 227942, a male. Collected 21 December 1978 by Alvin L. Braswell.|
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis: A Bachia with (1) no prefrontal scales; (2) the second supraocular is slightly longer than the first; (3) the frontonasal is hexagonal; (4) three clawed digits on each manus and two digits on each pes; (5) there are quadrangular scales on the dorsum; (6) scales around mid-body 31–32; (7) transverse dorsals in 47–49 rows; (8) the fifth upper labial does not contact the last supraocular; (9) there are eight rows of gulars; (10) the second pair of chinshields are widely separated; (11) an interparietal scale is absent.|
Comparisons: This species can be readily distinguished from all other Bachia in the eastern Caribbean by the absence of hexagonal scales (it has only quadrangular shaped scales on the dorsum), three digits on the hands, two digits on the feet, it has 31–32 scale rows around the body and 47–49 transverse rows of dorsals from the occiput to just behind the back legs. Bachia alleni and B. trinitatis all have a band of hexagonal scales on the dorsum that is usually seven to 12 scales wide, they have four or five digits on the manus, and four digits on the pes. All of the specimens of the B. flavescens group we examined lacked the band of hexagonal scales, some have three fingers and one toe, others have three fingers and two toes, but all have seven rows of gular scales (instead of eight), two supraoculars (instead of three), and four or five upper labials instead of six. This species also has a uniquely shaped cloacal plate composed of three plate-like scales. All other species examined have a cloacal plate consisting of four plate-like scales. Parietal scales are not separated by an interparietal as they are with B. trinitatis.
Because B. flavescens is a composite species, it is impossible to provide a comparison of B. whitei sp. nov. to B. flavescens. We did compare B. whitei sp. nov. to two candidate species (species A and B) of the B. cf. flavescens group from Guyana. Bachia whitei sp. nov. has a more slender-body, a lighter base color in the preserved state, and their heads tend to be narrower (HW/HL x = 0.5986, n = 2). Guyana B. cf. flavescens sp. A have a more robust body, they are darker in color in the preserved state, and their heads tend to be slightly wider (HW/HL x = 0.6182, n = 2). They have 26 scales rows at mid-body, 35–37 scale rows between the pectoral and anal plates, seven gular scale rows, a pentagonal lower posterior temporal, two supraoculars, four upper labials, and distinctive chin scale morphology. Guyana B. cf. flavescens sp. B has a robust body, darker base color with characteristic longitudinal striping pattern in the preserved state, and the head is quite broad (HW/HL = 0.6849, n = 1). The specimen has 32 scale rows at mid-body, 38 scale rows between the pectoral and cloacal plates, seven gular scale rows, a quadrangular lower posterior temporal, two supraoculars, five upper labials, and chin scale morphology that closely resembles that of Guyana Bachia sp. A.
|Comment||HAbitat: The first specimen of B. whitei sp. nov. collected came from a pile of cut grass/lawn debris that it shared with Bachia trinitatis. The debris pile was about 50 m from the forest edge. The other two specimens collected in the late 1970s came from unknown localities. The most recent specimen collected was along a Main Ridge Trail and was under a piece of palm that was laying on wet, bare soil in the closed canopy forest.|
Behavior: While Bachia trinitatis tried to hide under leaves and debris, B. whitei used its tail to propel its body into the air in attempts to escape.
|Etymology||Named in honor of Graham White, for his contributions to the natural history and conservation of the Trinidad and Tobago fauna. He has extensive knowledge of the biodiversity of Trinidad and Tobago, is an avid birder and a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Rarities Committee since its inception in 1996. He is a long-standing member of the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club (TTFNC) and has served on the Editorial Committee of the Living World Journal published by the TTFNC from 1999 to 2014 and as the Editor 2015-present. Mr. White is also the Chairman of the Asa Wright Nature Centre.|