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Bradypodion barbatulum TOLLEY, TILBURY & BURGER, 2022

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Higher TaxaChamaeleonidae, Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Beardless Dwarf Chameleon
SynonymBradypodion barbatulum TOLLEY, TILBURY & BURGER 2022 
DistributionRepublic of South Africa (Cape Province)

Type locality: Kouga Mountains west of Smutsberg, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa (−33.626, 23.752, 1 060 m asl).  
TypesHolotype: PEM R013456. An adult male with everted hemipenes. Collected on 22 February 1998 by Matthew Branch.
Paratypes: PEM R09150, adult male. Near Joubertina, Formosa Conservation Area, Tsitsikamma Mountains (−33.867, 23.850, 710 m asl). Collected on 15 April 1994 by Colin Tilbury; PEM R08666, adult male. Sandrift farm, Dennehoek (−33.866, 23.829, 610 m asl). Collected on 10 November 1993 by Marius Burger and Rodger Smith; PEM R05868, adult male. Misgund, SE of Niekerksberg, Langkloof Mountains (−33.787, 23.451, 1 176 m asl). Collected on 28 November 2003 by Krystal Tolley and Marius Burger; PEM R08831, adult female. Niekerksberg, Langkloof Mountains (−33.786, 23.417, 1 280 m asl). Collected on 16 March 1993 by Colin Tilbury and Rodger Smith; PEM R08827, adult female. Langkloof, Formosa Conservation Area (−33.850, 23.851, 610 m asl). Collected on 15 March 1993 by Colin Tilbury and Rodger Smith; PEM R07697. Formosa Conservation Area (−33.899, 23.843, 950 m asl). Collected on 16 March 1992 by Rodger Smith; PEM R08776, adult female. Formosa Conservation Area (−33.787, 23.449, 1 172 m asl). Collected 12 November 1992 by Rodger Smith; PEM R07698, adult female. Formosa Conservation Area (−33.898, 23.843, 942 m asl). Collected on 16 March 1992 by Rodger Smith; PEM R05866, adult female. Northern slopes of the Kouga Mountains, Geelhoutbos trail (−33.669, 24.210, 970m asl). Collected on 2 December 2003 by Marius Burger and Krystal Tolley; PEM R07694, adult female. Kouga Mountain range (−33.607, 23.578, 1 050 m asl). Collected on 7 October 1992 by J. Brits. All of the paratype localities are within the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Differs from all other species of Bradypodion, except B. baviaanense sp. nov., by the combination of the following characters: dwarfed body habitus with a maximum adult snout-vent length of <70 mm; tail less than the snout-vent length in both sexes; a low casque (elevated less than 30° above the nape); gular lobes are cone shaped and weakly developed; the flanks have a dorso-lateral row of enlarged tubercles, as well as one or two other rows present on the flanks; dorsal crest extends onto the base of the tail; gular grooves pale, with no widened melanotic zones. Differs from B. baviaanense sp. nov. in the number of tubercles between the anterior end of the canthi rostrales and the upper labials (2–3 versus 3–4 in B. baviaanense sp. nov.). Hemipenes differ in that apart from the two pairs of rotulae there is no other obvious apical ornamentation. There is an overall similarity of hemipenal morphology between this and all other species of Bradypodion, underlining the plesiomorphic nature of these organs in this genus. (Tolley et al. 2022)

Description of the holotype (PEM R13456): An adult male with everted hemipenes and an incision along the mid-abdomen. Snout-vent length 59 mm, tail length 49.4 mm, comprising 45% of the total length. Casque slightly elevated above the nape of the neck. Cranial crests all well-defined. Temporal crests of (6L/5R) tubercles, ascending along the posterior aspect of the upper temporal fossa to meet the lateral parietal crest and continues as a single row of tubercles to the casque tip. Subocular tubercle prominent. Supra-orbital and canthal crests rugose with enlarged conical and subconical tubercles. Upper labials 10R/10L, lower labials 12R/13L (counted from the snout tip to the midpoint below the orbital rim). Nares open postero-laterally from a cuff of seven small, rounded tubercles at a point approximately 38% along a line between the anterior orbital rim and the snout (closer to the orbital rim). The anterior end of the canthi rostrales are separated from the upper labials by three smaller rounded tubercles. Gular crest composed of 17 small tubercles, numbers 3–6 weakly lobulated, the rest of simple low conical tubercles. Gular region with several thin rows of enlarged pigmented tubercles separated by white interstitial grooves that extend posteriorly to the region between the forelegs.
Superior and inferior temporal fossae clad with large plate-like flattened scales. Midline parietal crest of six slightly enlarged tubercles. No ventral crest. Dorsal crest of 36 acuminate tubercles extending from the nape to the point above the vent. The dorsal crest extends posteriorly to fade over the proximal half of the tail. Scalation finely heterogeneous. Scattered enlarged tubercles form four vague rows spaced along the flanks. An enlarged tubercle is present just above the insertion of the foreleg. (Tolley et al. 2022)

Sexual dimorphism: Sexually mature males have an obvious hemipenal bulge at the base of the tail and a slight increase in rugosity of scalation, compared with females. Apart from male colour display when courting or challenging other males and a marginally longer tail, there are no other sexual dimorphic features. (Tolley et al. 2022)

Colouration: Adult male in display (not collected): Head crests and gular region sulphuryellow. The superior and inferior temporal zones pale. The eyeball darker with a single dark horizontal stripe through the eye, which extends posteriorly as a broad black band below the temporal crest to terminate above the forearm insertion. Enlarged tubercles and scales of the vertebral keel, flanks, limbs and tail bright yellow contrasted to a darker background interstitium.
Adult male non-display (not collected): Top of head dark brown. The zone surrounding the mouth is a pale stripe. A dark brown to black flash extends from the posterior rim of the orbit just below the temporal crest to just beyond the forearm insertion. Gular interstitial grooves white. Background colour pale brown, with darker brown to chocolate grey blotches along the vertebral keel and along the flanks. In some specimens, the midline markings may coalesce into a broad stripe and up to three rows of dark-edged blotches may adorn the flanks and belly. Dark blotches continue along the sides of the tail. (Tolley et al. 2022)

Variation: Body measurements collected from the holotype and 10 paratypes (four adult males and seven adult females) plus an additional 54 specimens measured in the field show that the sexes are similarly sized, with the largest male measuring 59 mm snout to vent and the largest female 62.6 mm. Tail length as a percentage of total length was 47% in males and 44% in females. The specimens from type series also show that the gular crest varies between 11 and 21 small subconical projections averaging 18 units. Up to 8 of the anterior cones are compound, followed by simple low cones. The dorsal crest comprises between 17 to 39 cones between the nape to the point above the vent, averaging 33 cones. (Tolley et al. 2022) 
EtymologyNamed after the Latin adjective barbatulum meaning ‘small bearded’– referring to the diminutive gular lobes. Although the gular region of species is not actually ‘beardless’, we propose to retain the common name of Beardless Dwarf Chameleon, which has been in casual use for several decades and this common name has been established in the literature (Tolley and Burger 2007). 
  • Tolley, Krystal A; Colin R Tilbury & Marius Burger 2022. Convergence and vicariance: speciation of chameleons in the Cape Fold Mountains, South Africa, and the description of three new species of Bradypodion Fitzinger, 1843, African Journal of Herpetology, - get paper here
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