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Cercosaura argulus PETERS, 1862

IUCN Red List - Cercosaura argulus - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaGymnophthalmidae (Cercosaurinae), Sauria, Gymnophthalmoidea, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: White-lipped Cercosaura
Portuguese: Lagarto-do-Folhiço 
SynonymCercosaura (Pantodactylus) argulus PETERS 1863: 184
Prionodactylus argulus — BOULENGER 1885: 391
Prionodactylus holmgreni ANDERSSON 1914: 9
Prionodactylus holmgreni — WERNER 1916: 307
Prionodactylus columbiensis WERNER 1917: 306
Prionodactylus argulus — UZZELL 1970: 235 (part)
Prionodactylus argulus — PETERS et al. 1970: 235
Prionodactylus argulus — DUELLMAN 1978: 220
Prionodactylus argulus — DIRKSEN & DE LA RIVA 1999
Prionodactylus argulus — LEHR 2002: 74
Prionodactylus argulus — PIANKA & VITT 2003: 69
Cercosaura argulus — DOAN 2003
Cercosaura argula — TORRES-CARVAJAL et al. 2015
Cercosaura argula — ECHEVARRIA et al. 2015
Cercosaura argulus — STURARO et al. 2017
Cercosaura argula — TORRES-CARVAJAL et al. 2019 
DistributionColombia (Llanos Orientales de Colombia, Amazonía; Valle del Río Magdalena; Huila, Tolima, Cundinamarca, Boyaca, Caldas; Cauca y Valle under 1500 m elevation), Ecuador, Bolivia (Cochabamba, La Paz, Santa Cruz), French Guiana, Peru (Pasco etc.), Brazil (Amazonas, E Para, Rondonia, Acre, Maranhão), Suriname (?), Guyana (?)

Elevation: 10–1800 m (DOAN & LAMAR 2012).

Type locality: “Umgebung von Sta. Fé de Bogotá” [= Cundinamarca, Colombia]  
TypesHolotype: ZMB 4555 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Frontonasal divided. Loreal i n contact with supralabials. Scales around midbody 27-35. Males with 12-20, females with 2-6, pores in total, none i n preanal position; the pores from two sides separated by four ventrals in a transverse row. Subdigital lamellae not or only slightly tuberculate, 16-22 under fourth toe. A sharp delimitation o n sides of head, usually just above supralabials, between a brown dorsal surface and a white ventral surface; lower flanks white, continuous with white belly (from Avila-Pires 1995: 454).

Description. Gymnophthalmid with maximum SVL, among material studied, of 45 mm in males (KU 127248), 41 mm in females (KU 127250, USNM 334927). Head 0.22-0.27 (0.25 ± 0.01, n= 33) times SVL, 1.5-2.0 (1.75 ± 0.10, n= 33) times as long as wide, 1.2-1.5 (1.32 ± 0.07, n= 33) times as wide as high. Snout pointed, widening gradually posteriorly. Neck slightly narrower than head and body. Body cylindrical to slightly depressed. Limbs well developed, forelimb 0.25-0.33 (0.29 ± 0.02, n= 29) times SVL, hind limb 0.33-0.49 (0.41 ± 0.04, n= 28) times. Tail round in cross section, 2.2-2.6 (2.43 ± 0.10, n= 13) times SVL in all but one specimen with SVL 31 mm (SVL in remaining specimens ± 31 mm); tail in this specimen 2.1 times SVL.
Tongue lanceolate, covered with small, imbricate, scale-like papillae, except for the bifid tip which is smooth. Anterior teeth conical, posterior teeth mostly tricuspid, occasionally bicuspid.
Rostral crescent-shaped in dorsal view, more than twice as wide as deep. A pair of rectangular frontonasals (much longer than wide), followed by a pair of shorter, irregularly pentagonal prefrontals. Frontal hexagonal, longer than wide, widest anteriorly. A pair of irregularly pentagonal frontoparietals, with a long medial suture. Interparietal heptagonal, longer than wide, lateral borders approximately parallel. One parietal at each side, shorter and wider than interparietal. One median and two larger paramedian occipitals. Three supraoculars, first largest. Four, occasionally three or five, supraciliaries, first expanded dorsally. Nostril in an undivided nasal. One large loreal, irregularly pentagonal, in contact with supralabials, followed by a triangular or trapezoidal frenocular. Subocular series formed by a small preocular, 3-5 suboculars, posterior one usually largest, and 3-4 postoculars, uppermost largest. Lower eyelid with semitransparent disc of 1-4, mostly two, palpebrals. Seven or eight, occasionally nine, supralabials and postsupralabials in total, fourth supralabial below centre of eye. Lower part of temporal region with relatively small scales, upper part with large scales. Ear-opening oval to roughly triangular, surrounded by small scales which form a smooth margin. Tympanum recessed, leaving a short external auditory meatus.
Mental relatively long. Postmental large, pentagonal or heptagonal. Four pairs of chinshields, first two pairs in medial contact, third pair with a short medial suture or completely separated medially by one or two longitudinal series of small scales; all three pairs in contact with infralabials. Fourth pair longitudinally divided at each side, the inner pair rather than the outer pair in line with anterior chinshields; outer pair in contact with infralabials or not, inner pair mostly separated medially but occasionally partially in contact. Posteriorly of the inner fourth pair a relatively large scale at each side (in some specimens transversely divided), which can be considered as a fifth pair of chinshields. Four or five infralabials, followed by 1-3 narrower postinfralabials; when four infralabials, third and fourth long and suture between the two below centre of eye; when five infralabials, fourth shorter than third and fifth below centre of eye. Scales on chin either in direct contact with gulars, or separated from them by a row of small scales. All scales on head juxtaposed, smooth.
Nape with an anterior pair of enlarged scales (or four scales moderately enlarged), followed by subimbricate to imbricate transverse series of quadrangular or slightly wider than long, smooth or slightly keeled scales. Posteriad scales grade into dorsals. Scales on sides of neck small, rounded, juxtaposed to subimbricate, in transverse rows. Gulars in 8-11 transverse rows of imbricate or subimbricate, smooth scales, of which two to six rows with a pair of enlarged median scales (occasionally all gulars irregular, not forming pairs). Collar with two or three enlarged median scales, followed toward the sides by gradually smaller scales.
Dorsals imbricate, keeled, elongate-hexagonal, in 38-45 (41.4 ± 1.9, n= 25) transverse rows (from first row posterior to occipitals to posterior margin of hind limbs) in most specimens except those from Colombia (see remarks); 12-15 (13.5 ± 0.8, n= 32) scales in a transverse row at midbody. Scales on flanks smaller than, but with some gradation toward, dorsals and ventrals, with rounded posterior margin and mostly keeled. Ventrals imbricate, smooth, in 19-23 (20.7 ± 1.3, n= 30) transverse, and six longitudinal rows. Scales in the four median rows quadrangular, with rounded posterior margin, in outermost row at each side narrower and with rounded lateral and posterior margins. Scales around midbody 27-35 (32.0 ± 1.9, n= 25). Preanal plate with two anterior and two posterior scales in males, two anterior and two or four (occasionally three) posterior scales in females. Pores enclosed in a single scale, 12-20 (n= 19) in total in males, 2-6 (n= 13) in females, none in preanal position. The two rows of pores at each side are separated by four ventrals in a transverse row.
Scales on dorsal surface of tail similar to dorsals, distally smooth. On underside of tail scales similar to ventrals, but becoming gradually narrower.
Scales on dorsal and posterior aspects of upper arms, on most of forearms, on anterior and ventral aspects of thighs, and on ventral and part of anterior and posterior aspects of lower legs large, smooth, imbricate. On remaining areas of limbs scales small, smooth and subimbricate. Subdigital lamellae not or only slightly tuberculate, in a double row except for a few distal lamellae which are single; 13-17 (15.6 ± 1.0, n= 60, 31 specimens) under fourth finger, 16-22 (19.3 ± 1.3, n= 56, 29 specimens) under fourth toe (from Avila-Pires 1995: 454).

Colour in life of MPEG 14516, sepia (119) on dorsal surface of head and back, flanks gem ruby (110) with black dots, on neck bordered ventrally by a black stripe; both back and flanks lighter posteriorly. Five ocelli on one side, six on the other, white in centre, bordered by black; first largest, above forelimb insertion. A ventrolateral sulphur-yellow (57) band, bordered dorsally by a lighter band. Ventral surface white. Tail dorsally salmon (6), darker along a middorsal band and on the sides; ventral surface light salmon. K U 127248 was described as "Dorsum and head brown. Reddish and brown stripe running along side of body. Venter cream; tail bright red", and K U 128123 as "Head and dorsum brown; venter cream. Dark brown stripes along sides. Tail orange" (M.L. Crump field notes). 
CommentSynonymy: P. oshaughnessyi has been synonymized with P. argulus by UZZELL (1973) and DOAN 2003. However, some authors continued to treat P. oshaughnessyi as valid species, e.g. Pellegrino et al. (2001), Avila-Pires et al. 2009. Torres-Carvajal et al. 2015 found argulus and oshaughnessyi as (weakly) separated genetically and monophyletic although their sampling was somewhat biased (with only 2 specimens of argulus) and all specimens of oshaughnessyi being from a relatively small geographic area. We accept oshaughnessyi given that it was also considered as distinct by Sturaro et al. 2017. 
EtymologyNamed after Latin “argulus” (meaning: small spot, probably in allusion to the ocelli in this species), a noun in supposition, hence it does not change when it is moved to another genus that may have a different gender. See Sturaro et al. 2017 for details.

Prionodactylus oshaughnessyi was named after A. W. E. O’Shaughnessy, herpetologist of the British Museum.  
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