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Ctenophorus spinodomus SADLIER, COLGAN, BEATSON & COGGER, 2019

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Higher TaxaAgamidae (Amphibolurinae), Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Eastern Mallee Dragon 
SynonymCtenophorus spinodomus SADLIER, COLGAN, BEATSON & COGGER 2019: 207
Ctenophorus fordi group 1 — EDWARDS et al. 2015 
DistributionAustralia (SW New South Wales, SE South Australia, probably NW Victoria)

Type locality: Yathong Nature Reserve (32.5742°S 145.3828°E) NSW, Australia  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. AMS R.156615, G. Swan (07 October 1999). Paratypes. AMS R.154827–28, Yathong Nature Reserve (32.5742°S 145.3828°E), NSW, G. Swan (12–14 October 1999); R.156647, R.156711, Yathong National Park (32.5869°S 145.4975°E), NSW, G. Swan (1999); R.156704, Yathong National Park or Yarra Property (32.58°S 145.40°E), NSW, G. Swan (1999); R.157315, Yathong Nature Reserve, 10 km NNW of Shearers Quarters (32.5864°S 145.4972°E), NSW, P. Harlow and G. Swan (07 November 1998); R.145176–77, R.145179, Yathong Nature Reserve (32.72°S 145.53°E), NSW, P. Harlow; R.114208–09, R.114211, R.114213–15, Mungo National Park, 5.0 km N of SE corner (33.77°S 143.22°E), NSW, R. Sadlier and G. Shea (02 November 1984); R.114456–57, Mungo National Park, 5.0 km N of SE corner (33.77°S 143.22°E), NSW, R. Sadlier and G. Shea (12 November 1984); R.114347–48, R.114349, Top Hut Homestead, 6.9 km S on Old Arumpo Rd. (33.73°S 142.92°E), NSW, R. Sadlier and G. Shea (17 November 1984); R.115216, Top Hut Station, 8 km NE Roys Tank (33.68°S 142.98°E), NSW, C. Tiedermann (25 November 1984); R.153214–16, Warrakoo Station (33.9858°S 141.1180°E), NSW, M. LeBreton (16 October 1998); R.7755–76, Murray Bridge (35.12°S 139.27°E), SA; R.20989, Renmark (34.17°S 140.75°E), SA; R.145481–82 Brookfield Conservation Park (34.32°S 139.50°E), SA; R.104842–43, Renmark (34.17°S 140.75°E), SA. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Ctenophorus spinodomus sp. nov. is diagnosed from all other species in the genus, except for the taxa currently contained within C. maculatus and C. fordi, in having a near continuous row of femoral pores either side (15–22) in adult males arranged in a row that arches forward to an apex on the midline, and a dark chest patch (although obscure) between the forelimbs in adult males. Adult female C. spinodomus sp. nov. can be distinguished from other regionally sympatric (C. pictus) or parapatric (C. nuchalis) species of Ctenophorus by the presence (vs absence) of a fine, typically uninterrupted pale dorsolateral stripe down the body from the neck to just past the hindlimbs.
Adult male C. spinodomus sp. nov. are diagnosed from all named subspecies of Ctenophorus maculatus in having fewer femoral pores in total (maximum 41 vs range of 40–57 encompassed by the maculatus subspecies—Storr, 1965), and in the dark markings on the throat being present as a series of dark spots and blotches either side of the midline of varying intensity and degree of coalescence vs a pattern of well-defined narrow to broad dark bars either side.
The following features of colouration and scalation in combination distinguish Ctenophorus spinodomus sp. nov. from taxa assignable to the other genetic lineages under C. fordi (see Tables 2 and 3): tail length c. 2.1–2.4 times the body length in males and c. 1.95–2.15 times in females: hindlimb length c. 82–93% SVL in males, c. 74–93% in females; upper labial scales 10–13; subdigital lamellae scales 25–31; femoral pore scales in males 16–22 either side; dark markings of the throat of adult males typically obscure and present as scattered spots and blotches, occasionally aligned either side of the midline but not coalescing to form elongate blotches; chest of adult males with a typically poorly-defined black “T” shaped patch.

Description. The species is described from 17 adult males and 15 adult females regarded as representative of populations in central-west and southwest New South Wales, and southeast South Australia.
Measurements and scalation adult males: size 41.4–48.7 mm SVL (mean = 45.2); distance from axilla to groin 44.0– 52.7% SVL (mean = 47.3); head length (HDL) 20.8–25.8% SVL (mean = 23.9); head width 75.4–93.4% HDL (mean = 83.9); hindlimb length (HLL) 82.1–92.6% SVL (mean = 87.3); tail length 207.1–241.5% SVL (mean = 224.1, n = 16); upper labial scales 10–13 (mean = 12.0, sd = 0.7); lamellae beneath fourth toe 25–30 (mean = 27.8, sd = 1.8); femoral pore scales 16–22 (mean = 18.6, sd = 1.42, n = 15).
Measurements and scalation adult females: size 43.6–54.5 mm SVL (mean = 48.6); distance from axilla to groin 43.9– 53.6% SVL (mean = 48.1); head length (HDL) 20.8–25.4% SVL (mean = 23.4); head width 80.3–92.7% HDL (mean = 85.0); hindlimb length (HLL) 74.5–91.7% SVL (mean = 82.0); tail length 193.5–216.3% SVL (mean = 205.2); upper labial scales 10–13 (mean = 11.9, sd = 0.7); lamellae beneath fourth toe 25–31 (mean = 27.5, sd = 1.5).
Significant differences between adult males and adult females were found for body size* with adult females larger on average than adult males (SVL mean = 48.6 vs 45.2), for tail length* with adult males having longer tails (TL mean = 224.1 vs 205.2% SVL), and for hindlimb length* with adult males having longer limbs (HLL mean = 87.3 vs 82.0% SVL).
Colour and pattern: adult males (Figs 5A–D, 6A, 7A)— dorsal surface in life orange-brown and defined from the lateral surface by a narrow (2 sometimes 3 scales width), pale, dorsolateral stripe with a dark edge that extends from the nape to base of the tail ending abruptly just past the hindlimbs. Dorsal surface of the body with a series of small dark blotches adjacent to and contacting the pale dorsolateral stripe and a scattering of very fine dark flecks on the top of head and body, the extent of spotting (particularly on the head) varying from sparse to moderately dense between individuals at a location. Intrapopulation variation in definition of pattern on the lateral surface is present. Upper- lateral surface with a base colour similar (orange-brown) or marginally darker (mid brown) in tone to the dorsal surface, and dominated by a series of large dark markings (blackish blotches) of varying intensity and definition between the fore and hindlimbs, usually concordant in placement with the position of opposing small dark blotches on the dorsal surface of the body. Mid-lateral surface with a variably defined pale midlateral stripe along the side of the body between the fore and hindlimbs, distinct and defined by the dark markings (blotches) of the upper-lateral surface and a line of fine dark scattered spots along the upper and lower edges of the pale stripe, less well-defined in other individuals where the line of dark makings along the upper and lower edges of this stripe are not continuous and present only as scattered flecks. Lower surface with similar colouration to upper-lateral surface, but with the base colour tending to border the lower edge of the pale midlateral stripe and the darker markings the lateroventral margin. Tail similar in colour above to the dorsal surface of the body. The pale dorsolateral stripe of the body continues a third or less of the way along the tail as a series of faint pale spots scattered along the dorsolateral edge. Side of tail uppermost dark (an extension of the dark upper lateral markings of the body) and tending to form a distinct stripe, which in turn is bordered below by a pale stripe (an extension of the pale midlateral stripe of the body) for approximately the basal third of the tail, which in turn is defined for most of its length from the underside of the tail by a series of fine dark markings along the ventrolateral margin, usually continuous along most of its length and forming a fine dark stripe.
Ventral surface pale, white in life, with dark scattered markings on the throat and chest. Dark throat markings variable in distribution and intensity, sometimes sparse and scattered but also tending to align either side of the midline, and only rarely forming narrow and elongate blotches which approach each other towards the chin. Dark chest markings also variable in distribution and intensity, sometimes presents as a few blotches medially between the forelimbs through to being aligned to form a poorly defined “T”-shaped patch with the lateral extensions typically narrow but the rearward extension varying from narrow to occasionally broad. Most individuals with a narrow alignment of dark markings along the anterior ventrolateral edge of the forelimbs, sometimes present as a continuous stripe at least on the humerus.
Adult females (Figs 5E–F, 6B, 7B)—dorsal and lateral surface with a similar pattern to males but overall lighter in tone. Ventral surface with the dark throat markings present as greyish specks and smudges, and chest typically without areas of dark markings.

Comparison with other species: Adult male C. spinodomus sp. nov. are most similar to adult male aff. Group 1 (C. aff. spinodomus), but differ in having shorter limbs and fewer preanal pores. Adult male and female C. spinodomus sp. nov. have a shorter tail length on average than adult males and females from other populations referable to the C. fordi Group 2 (C. fordi s.s.), Group 3 (Strzelecki) and Group 4 (GVD) genetic lineages, but with overlap in ranges. The tail length of adult male C. spinodomus sp. nov. is similar to adult males referable to the C. fordi Group 5 (Eyre) genetic lineage, but adult female C. spinodomus sp. nov. have a significantly shorter tail than Group 5 females with only minimal overlap in range. The average hindlimb length of adult male and female C. spinodomus sp. nov. is shorter than Group 2, Group 3 and Group 4 males and females but with overlap in ranges, though minimal to negligible respectively with Group 4 males and females. In scalation adult male and female C. spinodomus sp. nov. have on average fewer subdigital lamellae than adult Group 2, Group 3 and Group 4 males and females but with overlap in ranges, though minimal with respect to Group 3 females and negligible with respect to Group 4 males and females, and adult male C. spinodomus sp. nov. have fewer subdigital lamellae than Group 5 adult males but with overlap in range. Adult male C. spinodomus sp. nov. have on average more femoral pore scales than Group 3 and Group 4 males with minimal to negligible overlap respectively in range, and less than Group 5 males with minimal overlap in range.
Adult male C. spinodomus sp. nov. have a black “T” shaped chest patch which is typically poorly defined. The black chest markings of aff. Group 1 and taxa assignable to the other genetic lineages under C. fordi are typically bold in expression and differ markedly in shape. See also Tables 2 and 3 in Sadlier et al. 2019. 
CommentDistribution: for a map see Sadlier et al. 2019: Figs 2, 3.

Synonymy: Populations of this species were previously considered to be C. fordi. 
EtymologyThe species epithet is derived from a combination of the Latin spinosus for spiny and domus for home, in reference to the species’ reliance on Triodia grass hummocks. 
References
  • Edwards, D. L., J. Melville, L. Joseph, and J. S. Keogh. 2015. Ecological divergence, adaptive diversification, and the evolution of social signalling traits: an empirical study in arid Australian lizards. American Naturalist 186 (6): E144–E161 - get paper here
  • Sadlier, Ross A.; Donald J. Colgan; Cecilie A. Beatson; Harold G. Cogger 2019. Ctenophorus spinodomus sp. nov., a new species of dragon lizard (Squamata: Agamidae) from Triodia Mallee habitat of southeast Australia. Records of the Australian Museum 71(5): 199–215 - get paper here
 
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