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Cnemidophorus gaigei RUTHVEN, 1915

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Higher TaxaTeiidae, Teiinae, Gymnophthalmoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Gaige’s Rainbow lizard 
SynonymCnemidophorus lemniscatus gaigei RUTHVEN 1915
Cnemidophorus lemniscatus gaigei — HARVEY et al. 2012
Cnemidophorus gaigei — MCCRANIE & HEDGES 2013 
DistributionColombia (Magdalena)

Type locality: Santa Marta Maountains and vicinity, Colombia.  
Reproductionmay have bisexual and parthenogenetic forms like lemniscatus. 
TypesHolotype: UMMZ 45352 
CommentSynonymy and subspecies: MASLIN & SECOY 1986 listed gaigei as synonym of C. lemniscatus. MCCRANIE & HEDGES 2013 suggested to elevate splendidus, gaigei, and espeuti to full species status. However, they “suggest the new taxonomy with the caveat that molecular studies are needed for the Colombian species recognized herein, as well as other South American populations left unassigned to a subspecies by Markezich et al. (1997).”

Similar species: members of the C. lemniscatus group, distinguished from all other species by the presence of preanal spurs in males and by a higher number of femoral pores (more than 40; Ávila- Pires, 1995). Avila-Pires subsummarizes a number of species under “Cnemidophorus lemniscatus species complex” due to their similarity. Members of the neotropical ‘‘C.’’ lemniscatus species group (except ‘‘C.’’ longicaudus) are more closely related to species in other neotropical cnemidophorine taxa (Ameiva and Kentropyx) (REEDER et al. 2002). Cnemidophorus lemniscatus is “Clearly a complex of species” (RIVAS et al. 2012).

Ruthven (1915) described that nominal form for the Cnemidophorus populations in the Santa Marta region of northern Colombia. Burt (1931) placed C. l. gaigei in the synonymy of C. l. lemniscatus, but Harvey et al. (2012) resurrected C. l. gaigei for those populations. Cnemidophorus l. gaigei has a continuous vertebral stripe, thus differing from C. l. lemniscatus, which has a split vertebral stripe. In addition, the geographic distribution of C. l. gaigei appears to be separated from C. l. lemniscatus by C. splendidus along the north coast of Venezuela. Cnemidophorus splendidus resembles C. l. gaigei in having the vertebral stripe continuous when present (but, see Markezich et al. 1997: 40). Harvey et al. (2012: 106) presented a table with meristic data on various nominal forms of the C. lemniscatus group they examined, including C. l. gaigei and C. splendidus. Although Harvey et al. (2012) only examined two C. splendidus and 11 C. l. gaigei, they recorded 13–14 total supralabials (both sides combined) for C. splendidus and 12 (both sides combined) for all 11 C. l. gaigei. We examined an additional nine specimens of C. l. gaigei from west of its type locality (see Appendix I and Fig. 7) and all have 12 supralabials (both sides combined). Also, the nine specimens are all more similar to the Harvey et al. (2012) data for C. l. gaigei than to C. splendidus in having fewer circumorbitals (4–6, x = 5.4 ± 0.7 in C. l. gaigei versus 12–13 in C. splendidus). Morphologically, C. l. gaigei appears to be more closely related to C. ruatanus than it does to C. splendidus, its nearest geographic relative, in having fewer circumorbitals and supralabials. Given that C. l. gaigei appears to be geographically isolated from other populations of C. lemniscatus that molecular data suggest are best treated as full species (C. gramivagus to the south and southeast and C. splendidus to the east; Fig. 1), we suggest elevating C. l. gaigei to a full species, C. gaigei comb. nov. Ruthven (see Fig. 7 for the location of the C. gaigei specimens examined for this work and the location of its type locality). [from MCCRANIE & HEDGES 2013]. 
EtymologyNamed after the collector, Frederick M. Gaige, husband of Helen Beulah Thompson Gaige. 
  • Carvajal-Cogollo, J.E.; L.E. Rojas-Murcia. & G. Cárdenas-Arévalo 2020. Reptiles del Caribe colombiano/ Reptiles of the Colombian Caribbean. Tunja: Editorial UPTC, 268 pp. - get paper here
  • Castillo-Peñarredonda, C. J.; Tovar-Marquez; J. M. & Diaz-Perez, J. A. 2024. Los cambios en la cobertura del suelo afectan la diversidad de anfibios y reptiles en un paisaje rural de la región Caribe colombiana. ACTA ZOOLÓGICA MEXICANA (NS), 1-17 - get paper here
  • HARVEY, MICHAEL B.; GABRIEL N. UGUETO & RONALD L. GUTBERLET, Jr. 2012. Review of Teiid Morphology with a Revised Taxonomy and Phylogeny of the Teiidae (Lepidosauria: Squamata). Zootaxa 3459: 1–156 - get paper here
  • Maslin, T. & Secoy, D.M. 1986. A checklist of the lizard genus Cnemidophorus (Teiidae). Contr. Zool. Univ. Colorado Mus. 1: 1-60
  • MCCRANIE, JAMES R.; S. BLAIR HEDGES 2013. A review of the Cnemidophorus lemniscatus group in Central America (Squamata: Teiidae), with comments on other species in the group. Zootaxa 3722 (3): 301–316 - get paper here
  • Ruthven, A.G. 1915. Description of a new subspecies of Cnemidophorus lemniscatus Laurenti. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 16: 1–4 - get paper here
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