Ceratophora ukuwelai KARUNARATHNA, POYARKOV, AMARASINGHE, SURASINGHE, BUSHUEV, MADAWALA, GORIN & DE SILVA, 2020
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|Higher Taxa||Agamidae (Draconinae), Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards)|
|Common Names||E: Ukuwelas’ Rough-horn Lizard|
Sinhala: Ukuwelage ralu-ang katussa
|Synonym||Ceratophora ukuwelai KARUNARATHNA, POYARKOV, AMARASINGHE, SURASINGHE, BUSHUEV, MADAWALA, GORIN & DE SILVA 2020|
|Distribution||Sri Lanka (Kegalle)|
Type locality: rainforest flow neighboring a stream, Salgala Forest, Kegalle District, Sri Lanka (7.120219°N, 80.251892°E, WGS1984; elevation 242 m; around 1100 h)
|Types||Holotype. NMSL 2020.05.01, adult female, 37.9 mm SVL, collected on 22 August 2019 by Suranjan Karunarathna and Anslem de Silva.|
Paratype. NMSL 2020.05.02, adult female, 36.4 mm SVL, collected from rainforest flow neighboring a stream, Salgala forest, Kegalle District, Sri Lanka (7.074361°N, 80.249797°E, WGS1984; elevation 269 m; around 1000 h) on 22 August 2019 by Suranjan Karunarathna and Anslem de Silva.
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis. The new species is assigned to the genus Ceratophora on the basis of phylogenetic data and by having a rostral appendage developed in males, absent in females; tympanum covered with skin; nuchal crest indistinct; dorsal crest absent; tail not prehensile; gular fold comparatively reduced; and scales on flanks heterogeneous, some scales greatly enlarged. Ceratophora ukuwelai sp. nov. can be readily distinguished from its congeners by a combination of the following morphological and meristic characteristics: rostral appendage complex, comprising several scales; maximum SVL 37.9 mm; trunk relatively long (TRL/ SVL ratio 51.4–52.6%) with relatively short fore-body (SA/TRL ratio 90.2–90.9%); nuchal crest feebly defined; squamosal process present; dorsum with heterogeneous, keeled scales, intermixed with smooth flat scales; almost all scales on head, body, limbs, and tail bearing 1–18 mechanoreceptive pores (in a single scale), each pore with a sensory seta; 5–7 enlarged, keeled scales present on body flanks; nine supraciliary scales; 40–44 paravertebral scales; 72–77 midbody scales; 72–75 midventral scales. The new species is also clearly distinct from all other congeners in ND2 gene sequences (divergence over 9.6%).|
For abbreviations see Darko et al. 2022.
Variation. Measurements and morphological characters of the type series are given in Tables 5–6. The female paratype is generally similar to the holotype in body proportions and coloration; the SVL of adult female specimens in the type series of Ceratophora ukuwelai sp. nov. (n = 2) ranges from 36.4 to 37.9 mm; enlarged flank scales 5–7; supralabials 12–13; infralabials 11–12; postmentals 3–4; interorbital 9–10; canthal scales 10–11; total lamellae on digit of the manus: digit I (6–7), digit II (8–9), digit III (12–13), digit IV (12–13), digit V (8–9); total lamellae on digit of the pes: digit I (6–7), digit II (7– 8), digit III (7–8), digit IV (14–16); paravertebral granules 40–44; midbody scales 72–77; ventral scales 72–75 (see Tables 5–6). Because the holotype and paratype of the new species are females, sexual dimorphism could not be determined. However, a single male specimen of Ceratophora ukuwelai sp. nov. was recorded at the type locality and photographed in life (Fig. 6B). Male specimen possessed long (RAL/SVL ratio 11.26%) complex rostral appendage, comprised of numerous keeled acuminate scales, including posterostral scales and a pointed enlarged scale on the top.
Color in life. In life, dorsum of head, body, and limbs generally grey-brown (Fig. 6); forehead with white blotch, interorbital area with a ‘Y’ shaped brown marking, occiput area with a ‘W’ shaped dark marking; four grey diamond-shaped vertebral markings with black dots. Tail generally brown with faded zigzag markings. Two brown postorbital stripes on each side with striped labials (Fig. 5). Chin, gular, and ventral scales dirty white mixed with red-brown. Dorsal surface of upper and lower arm with white ring around. Posterior side of femur with white longitudinal spine line, tibia with white ring around. Iris copper-orange; pupil black. Inner surfaces of mouth cavity bluish-grey. A male specimen (not collected) showed generally similar but slightly darker coloration than the female type (Fig. 6B).
Comparisons with other Sri Lankan species. The new species, Ceratophora ukuwelai sp. nov., readily differs from Ceratophora aspera by the presence of fewer supraciliary scales (9 versus 12–14), fewer paravertebral scales (40–44 versus 52–58), greater midbody scales (72–77 versus 57–61), fewer ventral scales (72–75 versus 92–95), trunk relatively long (TRL/ SVL ratio 51.4–52.6% versus 41.3–44.5%), and fore- body relatively short (SA/TRL ratio 90.2–90.9% versus 107.6–113.9%). Differs from Ceratophora erdeleni by the presence of a long, complex, and rough rostral appendage in males (versus short, simple, and smooth rostral appendage), lateral scales keeled (versus lateral scales smooth), relatively small bodied, average SVL of adults (37 mm versus 80 mm), found in lowland wet zone (below 300 m versus above 900 m). Differs from Ceratophora karu by the presence of long and rough rostral appendage in males (versus short, pointed, and relatively smooth rostral appendage), no prominent and conical shaped superciliary (versus very prominent and conical shaped superciliary presents), squamosal process present (versus squamosal process absent), found in lowland wet zone (below 300 m versus above 900 m). Differs from Ceratophora stoddarti by the presence of long, complex, and rough rostral appendage in males (versus long, simple, and smooth rostral appendage), lateral scales keeled (versus lateral scales smooth), relatively small bodied, average SVL of adults (37 mm versus 80 mm), found in lowland wet zone (below 300 m versus above 800 m). Differs from Ceratophora tennentii by the presence of rough and relatively round shaped rostral appendage in males (versus smooth and laterally flattened rostral appendage), lateral scales keeled (versus lateral scales smooth), relatively small bodied, average SVL of adults (37 mm versus 80 mm), found in lowland wet zone (below 300 m versus above 800 m).
Key: Karunarathna et al. 2020 have these 2 characters that key out ukuwelai from aspera:
5a. Trunk length is less than half of SVL and snout to axilla length is longer than trunk length (52–58 paravertebrals and 92–95 ventrals) ---- > C. aspera.
5b. Trunk length is more than half of SVL and snout to axilla length is shorter than trunk length (40–44 paravertebrals and 72–75 ventrals) ----> C. ukuwelai.
|Comment||Synonymy: Possibly a synonym of C. aspera. Karunarathna et al., 2020 found that Ceratophora ukuwelai is sister to C. aspera with a pairwise genetic distance of 9.6% (uncorrected p-distance). However, there is significant population-level variation across the range of C. aspera (with northern and southern populations having up to 5-6% pairwise distance with mtDNA), hence Wikramanayake et al. 2021 suspect that aspera may be a variable species that includes ukuwelai.|
Abundance: Rare. Known from 2 specimens.
Conservation status. Critically Endangered (CR).
Sympatry: Calotes calotes, Calotes liolepis, Calotes versicolor, Otocryptis wiegmanni.
Similar species: C. aspera
|Etymology||Named after a Latinized eponym in the masculine genitive singular, honoring evolutionary biologist and herpetologist Dr. Kanishka Ukuwela (Rajarata University) for his invaluable contribution to biodiversity studies and conservation in Sri Lanka.|
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