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Celestus laf LOTZKAT, HERTZ & KÖHLER, 2016

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Higher TaxaDiploglossidae, Diploglossa, Anguimorpha, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymCelestus laf LOTZKAT, HERTZ & KÖHLER 2016 
DistributionPanama (Chiriquí)

Type locality: on the grounds of the Lost and Found ecohostel (8.67462°N, 82.21958°W; 1,250 m asl), Reserva Forestal La Fortuna, Chiriquí, Panama  
TypesHolotype: SMF 90177, a juvenile, collected on 30 September 2009 by Gabriel Palacios, Sebastian Lotzkat, and Andreas Hertz. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A presumably medium-sized (only known specimen is a small juvenile), skink-like lizard that immediately is recognized as a member of the genus Celestus by the presence of two pairs of internasals separating the rostral from the first unpaired dorsal head plate (vs. fewer than two pairs of internasals in members of the non-anguid, but superficially similar sympatric genera Gymnophthalmus, Marisora, and Scincella), the lack of a distinct lateral fold (vs. conspicuous longitudinal lateral fold of granular scales separating the enlarged dorsals from the ventrals in the anguid genera Coloptychon and Mesaspis), and exposed claws that are fully visible (vs. claws enclosed in a claw sheath, with only their tips visible in the anguid genus Diploglossus).
Among its congeners from the Mesoamerican mainland, C. laf differs from the Mexican species C. enneagrammus, C. ingridae, and C. legnotus, as well as the Costa Rican C. cyanochloris, in having its suboculars and postoculars juxtaposed posterioventrally to the orbit (vs. in a continuous series). It further differs from C. cyanochloris in having most of the pale middorsal dots bordered by dark pigment only anteriorly (vs. anteriorly and posteriorly). Celestus laf is distinguished from C. atitlanensis, C. bivittatus, C. enneagrammus, C. legnotus, C. montanus, C. rozellae, C. scansorius, and the Costa Rican C. hylaius by its markedly keeled and strongly striated caudal and subcaudal scales (vs. caudal scales striated but not keeled, subcaudals smooth). It further differs from C. hylaius by the presence of 72 transverse rows of dorsals (vs. 76–81) and 77 transverse rows of ventrals (vs. 84–92).
The only species of Mesoamerican Celestus that share both the juxtaposed subocular and postocular series and the presence of keels on all caudal scales with C. laf are the Panamanian C. adercus (Fig. 5) and the Costa Rican C. orobius (Fig. 6).
Celestus laf differs from C. adercus by the presence of 2 loreals (vs. 3), 33 scales around midbody (vs. 31), 72 transverse rows of dorsals (vs. 79), 77 transverse rows of ventrals (vs. 86), 10 precloacal scales (vs. 8), and a yellow ground color along the ventrolateral surfaces of head and neck in life (vs. bright green). It differs from C. orobius by the presence of 72 transverse rows of dorsals (vs. 66), 77 transverse rows of ventrals (vs. 75), 10 precloacal scales (vs. 8), 24–25 lamellae under the 4th toe (vs. 21–22), broad interparietal and occipital plates that are about as wide as the frontal (vs. much narrower than frontal), and a yellow ground color along the ventrolateral surfaces of head and neck in life (vs. bluish cream). Further, the new species is distinguished from C. adercus and C. orobius by pronounced differences in the shape of the frontal plate. In C. laf, the transversely oriented frontal-interparietal suture is straight and very long, i.e., about as long as the laterally adjacent frontoparietals are wide, longer than the equally straight interparietal-interoccipital suture, and about as long as the almost parallel frontal-prefontral suture (vs. curved frontal-interparietal suture very short in C. adercus and C. orobius, i.e., by far shorter than the frontopa- rietals are wide, at most equal in length to the interparietal-interoccipital suture, and less than one-third the length of the frontal-prefontral suture, which furthermore is indented into the prefrontal in C. adercus). 
EtymologyThe specific name is composed of the initials of the “Lost and Found” ecohostel and given in appreciation of the type locality. Ever since their first visit, which occurred at the beginning of their respective Ph.D. projects in May of 2008, Andreas Hertz and Sebastian Lotzkat have benefited greatly from the exceptional hospitality they always experienced at the ecohostel, and were happy to use its facilities as a convenient base for their herpetological explorations of the La Fortuna Forest Reserve and other areas nearby. 
  • Kwet, Axel 2017. Neue Arten: Liste der im Jahr 2016 neu beschriebenen Reptilien. Terraria-Elaphe 2017 (3): 54-70 - get paper here
  • Lotzkat, Sebastian, Andreas Hertz and Gunther Köhler 2016. A new species of Celestus (Squamata: Anguidae) from western Panama. Mesoamerican Herpetology 3(4): 962–975 - get paper here
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