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Diploderma laeviventre (WANG, JIANG, SILER & CHE, 2016)

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Higher TaxaAgamidae (Draconinae), Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesEnglish: Smooth-venter Mountain Dragon
Chinese: Hua Fu Pan Xi, 滑腹龙蜥 
SynonymJapalura laeviventris WANG, JIANG, SILER & CHE in WANG et al. 2016
Japalura flaviceps — POPE 1935: 467
Japalura flaviceps — ZHAO & JIANG 1977: 293-298
Japalura flaviceps — HU et al. 1987: 112
Japalura flaviceps — ZHAO et al. 1999: 111-115
Japalura flaviceps — LI et al. 2010: 115
Diploderma laeviventre — WANG et al. 2018 
DistributionChina (eastern Tibet = Xizang, Yunnan)

Type locality: near the Nujiang Bridge in the upper Nujiang Valley at Baxoi (=Basu), Qamdo (=Changdu), eastern Tibet (=Xizang), PR China (30.10034° N, 97.22787° E, 2 739 m elevation.  
TypesHolotype: KIZ 014038, adult male, collected by Ke JIANG on 3 July 2013. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Following Inger’s definition of the genus (Inger, 1960), the new species is assigned to the genus Japalura based on a number of diagnostic characters, including: (1) dorsal scales unequal in size; (2) enlarged crest scales present; (3) gular pouch present; (4) lateral fold of skin in axilla-groin region present; (5) supraciliary scales greatly imbricate; (6) head relatively long, flat; (7) tail long, slender; (8) tail cylindrical in shape; and (9) precloacal and femoral pores absent.
Japalura laeviventris sp. nov. can be distinguished from all congeners by the combination of the following suite of morpho- logical characteristics: (1) small adult body size (SVL 67-72 mm in males, 64-70 mm in females); (2) moderate TAL (TAL/SVL 168%-200%); (3) moderate HLL (HLL/SVL 64.3%-78.4%); (4) NSL 1; (5) T4S 22-26; (6) SOR 3; (7) strongly-protuberant, conical, post-tympanic scale absent; (8) strongly-protuberant, conical, post-rictal scale absent; (9) tympanum concealed; (10) nuchal crests relatively raised on weak skin folds; (11) dorsal crests weakly developed without distinct skin folds in males; (12) transverse gular fold present; (13) gular pouch distinct, present; (14) scales of ventral surface of body smooth or weakly keeled; (15) MD 57-59, (16) ground dorsal coloration off-white in males, brownish-gray in females; (17) dorsal, lateral, and ventral surface of head, dorsal forelimbs, and lateral surface of body speckled with black; (18) distinct radial streaks around eyes; (19) dorso- lateral stripes present, smooth-edged, pale-yellow in males; (20) dark-brown, “M”-shaped pigmentation patterns along dorsal midline in males; and (21) small, triangular, orange gular spots in adults of both sexes.

Comparisons: see Japalura iadina.Comparisons: Populations of the new species were identified previously as J. flaviceps. However, the new species can be distinguished readily from the latter by having smooth or weakly keeled scales on the ventral surface of the head and the body (v.s. distinctively keeled), a greater number of MD (57-59 v.s. 43-48), heavily speckled ventral surfaces of the head, with speckles rarely forming short lines (v.s. speckles absent, but broad, dark stripes present and interconnected into a mosaic pattern), as well as by the absence of strongly-protuberant, conical, post-rictal scale (v.s. presence), presence of X-shaped patterns of dark pigmentation on the dorsal surface of the head (v.s. absence, or presence of few transverse streaks), presence of distinct radial patterns around the eyes (v.s. absence), pres- ence of M-shaped patterns of dark pigmentation along the dorsal midline between the two dorsolateral stripes in males (v.s. rhombus-shaped patterns with distinct yellow centers), and presence of distinct orange gular spots in both sexes (v.s. absence in both sexes).
Japalura laeviventris sp. nov. is most similar to J. kumaonensis (Annandale, 1907) and J. yunnanensis Anderson, 1879 in coloration patterns. All three species possess radial patterns of dark pigmentation around the eyes and light dorsolateral stripes in males. However, the new species can be distinguished readily from the latter two by having smooth or weakly keeled scales on the ventral surfaces of the head and the body (v.s. distinctively keeled), a greater number of MD (≥57 v.s. ≤52), as we as by the absence of strongly protuber- ant, conical, post-tympanic scales (presence and in high num- bers) and absence of strongly-protuberant, conical, post-rictal scale (v.s. presence). Additionally, Japalura laeviventris sp. nov. differs from from J. kumaonensis by having a greater number of SL (7- 9 v.s. 5 or 6), a concealed tympanum (v.s. exposed), a relatively well developed gular pouch (v.s. weakly developed), M-shaped patterns along the dorsal-midline in males (v.s. chevron-shaped), the posteriorly directed radial-stripes of the eyes less prominent and short, ending before reaching the tympanums (v.s. distinct, broad, enclosing the tympanums), as well as by the presence of a transverse gular fold (v.s. absence) and presence of orange gular spots in both sexes (v.s. absence in both sexes); and from J. yunnanensis by having a shorter tail (TAL/SVL ≤200% v.s. ≥235%), fewer T4S (22-26 v.s. 27-31), greater number of NSL (1 v.s. 0), broad dorsolateral stripes with smooth edges in males (v.s. narrow and jagged), an off-white ground coloration on the dorsal surface of the body (v.s. green or brown), the terrestrial lifestyle (v.s. arboreal), as well as by the presence of a transverse gular fold (v.s. absence) and presence of orange gular spots in both sexes (v.s. light yellow gular spots in males, some- times absence in females).
In addition to the four species compared above, the new spe- cies can be diagnosed from all remaining congeners by having smooth or weakly keeled scales on the ventral surfaces of the head and the body (v.s. distinctively keeled), an off-white ground coloration of the body (brown, black, or green), heavily speckled surfaces of the head and lateral surfaces of the body (v.s. absence or weakly speck- led lateral body only), M-shaped dark patterns of pigmentations along the dorsal midline of the body between the two dorsolateral stripes in males (v.s. rectangular blotches of dark pigmentations), and the orange gular spots in both sexes in life (v.s. other colorations, in males only), as well as by the absence of large, conical post-rictal and post- tympanic scales (v.s. presence and in high numbers).

Phylogenetics: no information provided by WANG et al. 2016. 
CommentAbundance: only known from its original description (Meiri et al. 2017). 
EtymologyWe derive the new species name from the Latin word “laeviventris, ” meaning “smooth venter, ” in reference to one of the major diagnostic characteristics of the new species: smooth or weakly keeled ventral body scales. 
  • DENZER, WOLFGANG; ULRICH MANTHEY, PATRICK D CAMPBELL 2019. Catalogue of type specimens of the agamid lizard genus Japalura s. l. (Squamata: Agamidae: Draconinae). Zootaxa 4612 (1): 109-125 - get paper here
  • Hu S. et al. 1987. Amphibia-Reptilia of Xizang. [In Chinese] Beijing: Science Press, 153 pp.
  • Li P. P., Zhao E. M., Dong B. J. 2010. Amphibians and Reptiles of Tibet. [In Chinese] Beijing: Science Press, 251 pp.
  • Meiri, Shai; Aaron M. Bauer, Allen Allison, Fernando Castro-Herrera, Laurent Chirio, Guarino Colli, Indraneil Das, Tiffany M. Doan, Frank Glaw, Lee L. Grismer, Marinus Hoogmoed, Fred Kraus, Matthew LeBreton, Danny Meirte, Zoltán T. Nagy, Cristiano d 2017. Extinct, obscure or imaginary: the lizard species with the smallest ranges. Diversity and Distributions - get paper here
  • Pope, CLIFFORD H. 1935. The Reptiles of China. Turtes, Crocodilians, Snakes, Lizards. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., New York, Nat. Hist. Central Asia, 10: lii, 1-604 - get paper here
  • Wang, Kai; Jing Che, Simin Lin, V Deepak, Datta-Roy Aniruddha, Ke Jiang, Jieqiong Jin, Hongman Chen, Cameron D Siler; 2018. Multilocus phylogeny and revised classification for mountain dragons of the genus Japalura s.l. (Reptilia: Agamidae: Draconinae) from Asia. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, , zly034, - get paper here
  • Wang, Kai; Jinlong Ren, Hongman Chen, Zhitong Lyu, Xianguang Guo Ke Jiang, Jinmin Chen, Jiatang Li, Peng Guo, Yingyong Wang, Jing Che 2020. The updated checklists of amphibians and reptiles of China. Biodiversity Science 28 (2): 189-218 - get paper here
  • WANG, KAI; JINLONG REN, KE JIANG, ZHIYONG YUAN, JING CHE, CAMERON D. SILER 2017. Rediscovery of the enigmatic Mountain Dragon, Japalura yulongensis (Reptilia: Sauria: Agamidae), with notes on its natural history and conservation. Zootaxa 4318 (2): 351–363 - get paper here
  • WANG, Kai; Ke JIANG, Da-Hu ZOU, Fang YAN, Cameron D. SILER, Jing CHE 2016. Two new species of Japalura (Squamata: Agamidae) from the Hengduan Mountain Range, China. Zoological Research 37(1): 41-56, DOI: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2016.1.41 - get paper here
  • Zhao E. M., Zhao K., Zhou K. Y. 1999. Fauna Sinica, Reptilia, Vol. 2, Squamata, Lacertilia. [In Chinese] Beijing: Science Press, 394 pp
  • Zhao, E. M. & Jiang,Y. M. 1977. A survey of reptiles in Xizang Autonomous Region, with faunal analysis & descriptions of new forms. [in Chinese] Acta Zool. Sinica, Peking, 23: 64-71
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