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Diploderma qilin WANG, REN, CHE & SILER, 2020

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Higher TaxaAgamidae (Draconinae), Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Qilin Mountain Dragon
Chinese: 麒麟龙蜥 (Pinyin: Qi Lin Long Xi) 
SynonymDiploderma qilin WANG, REN, CHE & SILER in WANG et al. 2020: 251
Japalura flaviceps: Zhao and Yang (1997: 165–167), in part; Zhao et al. (1999: 111–115), in part; Yang and Rao (2008: 200), in part.
DistributionChina (NW Yunnan: Jinsha River Valley)

Type locality: Jinsha River Valley in Balong, Deqin County, northwest Yunnan Province, China (27.7017° N, 99.4563°E, elevation 1982 m, WGS 84).  
TypesHolotype: KIZ 028332, adult male, Collected by Kai WANG and Jinlong REN on July 9, 2016.
Paratypes: KIZ 028333, adult male, same collecting information as for the holotype; KIZ 028334–336, adult females, same collecting information as for the holotype. KIZ 044412, 044413, adult males, near Baka Village, Shangri-La County, NW Yunnan Province, China (27.8066° N, 99.4527° E, elevation 2028 m); KIZ 044405, 044407, adult males, KIZ 044408, adult female, near Meiding Village, Shangri-La County, NW Yunnan Province, China (27.8811 N, 99.4440 E, elevation 1950 m); KIZ 044745, adult male, KIZ 044744, adult female, near Cangjue Village, Shangri-La County, NW Yunnan Province, China (27.6087 N, 99.5226 E, 1,939 m); KIZ 044820, adult female, near Pengnanshou Bridge, Shangri-La County, NW Yunnan Province, China (28.0301 N, 99.4215 E, elevation 2,619 m); all collected by Kai WANG, Zhuoyu LU, and Xiankun HUANG on June 15, 2019. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: The new species can be diagnosed from congeners by a combination of the following morphological characteristics: (1) body length moderate, SVL 55.9–66.5 mm in males, 55.3–61.7 mm in females; (2) tail long, TAL 201.0%–218.2% SVL in males, 174.3%–199.7% in females; (3) hind limbs moderate HLL 73.3%–78.4% SVL in males, 72.5%– 80.4% in females; (4) head relatively robust, HW 65.0%–73.2% HL, HD 72.3%–82.8% HW; (5) MD 38–45; (6) F4S 15–19; (7) T4S 21–25; (8) conical or subpyramidal, post-rictal scales moderately developed, 3–8; (9) tympanum concealed; (10) transverse gular fold present, distinct; (11) ventral scales of head and body distinctively keeled; (12) gular spots present in both males and females, Light Sulphur Yellow (Color 93); (13) oral cavity uniformly Light Flesh Color (Color 250); (14) dorsolateral stripes present, jagged, always in males, sometimes in females, Cream Yellow (Color 82) in males, Beige (Color 254) in females; (15) ventrolateral body Light Sulphur Yellow (Color 93) in males; and (16) ventral body uniform white or Pale Buff (Color 1) in both sexes (Wang et al. 2021).

Comparisons: Diploderma qilin was confused as D. flaviceps, but it can be differentiated from the latter by having a smaller maximum adult body size in males (SVL up to 66.5 mm versus up to 82.1 mm), weaker skin folds under crests in males, absent in females (versus strongly developed, raised in both sexes), less developed conical scales on the post-occipital and post-rictal regions (sub-pyramidal shape versus tall conical shape), as well as by the presence of gular spots in both sexes (versus absence), presence of distinct radial stripes around eyes (versus absence), and the absence of dark rhomboid-shaped patterns with distinct light centers on dorsal body along dorsal midline (versus presence). For closely distributed congeners along the upper Yangtze River in the HMR, D. qilin differs from D. batangense by having a tendency toward more MD (38–45 versus 41–53), a different gular coloration (Light Sulphur Yellow [Color 93] versus Pale Cyan [Color 157]) and a different coloration of ventral body in males (white or Pale Buff [Color 1] versus Spectrum Yellow [Color 79]); from D. brevicaudum by having a longer tail (TAL ≥ 174.3% SVL versus <145.0%) and longer hind limbs (HLL ≥ 72.5% of SVL versus <64.0%); and from D. yulongense by having different coloration of gular spots in males (Light Sulphur Yellow [Color 93] versus Opaline Green [Color 106]), as well as by the presence of distinct reticulated patterns on the ventral head in males (versus absence), the absence of gular spots in females (versus presence), and by the absence of Greenish Yellow (Color 88) ventrolateral patches of body (versus presence). For congeners distributed in different river valleys in the HMR, D. qilin differs from D. drunkdaypo by having a longer tail (TAL ≥ 174.3% versus ≤154.4%), longer hind limbs (HLL ≥ 72.5% SVL versus ≤63.8%), better developed crest scales in males (erected and serrated on skin folds versus not erected or serrated, skin fold absence), distinctively keeled ventral scales (versus feebly keeled or smooth), and by the presence of gular spots in males (versus absence); from D. iadinum by having a distinct body coloration (Emerald Green [Color 143] versus True Cinnamon [Color 260] to Burnt Umber [Color 48]) and different coloration of gular spot (Light Sulphur Yellow [Color 93] in both sexes versus Caribbean Blue [Color 168] in males, Medium Greenish Yellow [Color 88] in females); from D. laeviventre by distinctively keeled ventral scales (versus smooth or feebly keeled), fewer MD (38–45 versus 57–59), and different coloration of gular spots (Light Sulphur Yellow [Color 93] in both sexes versus Medium Chrome Orange [Color 75] in both sexes); from D. vela by weaker and discontinuous skin fold of crests in males (versus sail-like, continuous skin fold under crests) and by the presence of gular spots (versus absence); from D. slowinskii b y a c oncealed t ympanum ( versus e xposed), a s maller b ody size (SVL < 64 mm versus SVL > 74 mm), fewer T4S (19–25 versus 25–30), jagged dorsolateral stripes (versus smooth-edged), different body coloration of dorsolateral stripes (Cream Color [Color 82] versus Opaline Green [Color 106]), and by the presence of gular spots in males (versus absence). For remaining congeners, the new species differs from D. dymondi, D. swild, and D. varcoae by having a concealed tympanum (versus exposed) and differential oral coloration (Flesh Color [Color 250] versus Light Chrome Orange [Color 76] in D. swild and D. varcoae; Spectrum Violet [Color 186] to Jet Black [Color 300] in D. dymondi); from D. grahami by distinct appearance of dorsal body scales (protruding and spiky versus granular), more middorsal scales (38–45 versus 8), and a larger body size (55.94–63.44 mm versus 49.29 mm); from D. fasciatum by the absence of single hourglass-shaped pattern on the mid-dorsum (versus presence); from D. hamptoni by having small scales between nasal and first supralabial (versus in direct contact) and parallel dorsolateral stripes on dorsal body (versus diagonally away from dorsal midline); from D. chapaense, D. micangshanense, D. yunnanense, and all species from islands (D. brevipes, D. makii, D. luei, D. polygonatum, and D. swinhonis) by having a distinct transverse gular fold (versus absence); from D. splendidum by having homogeneous ventral head scales (versus heterogeneous) and strongly jagged dorsolateral stripes (versus smooth-edged); and from D. zhaoermii by a longer tail (TAL > 200.0% SVL in males, >174.0% in females versus <190.0% in males, <160.0% in females) and different coloration of gular spots (Light Sulphur Yellow [Color 93] versus Chartreuse [Color 89]). For the new species described here, D. qilin s p. n ov. d iffers from D. angustelinea by having more developed nuchal and dorsal crests on skin folds (versus feebly developed), wider and strongly jagged dorsolateral stripes in both sexes (versus narrow, feebly jagged), and by the different coloration of gular spots (Light Sulphur Yellow [Color 93] versus Sulphur Yellow [Color 80] to Dark Spectrum Yellow [Color 78]); from D. aorun by having distinct gular coloration (Light Sulphur Yellow [Color 93] versus Pale Cyan [Color 15] to Light Caribbean Blue [Color 163]); from D. flavilabre by having a longer tail (TAL ≥ 201.0% SVL in males, ≥174.3% in females versus ≤179.3% in males, <152.2% in females), different gular coloration in males (Sulphur Yellow [Color 80] versus Pale Emerald Green [Color 141]), different inner-lip coloration (Light Flesh Color [Color 250] versus Spectrum Yellow [Color 79]), as well as by the absence of gular spots in females (versus presence); from D. panchi by having a longer tail (TAL 174.3%– 199.7% SVL in females versus 141.8%–167.8%), a tendency toward a more robust head (HD 72.3%–80.41% HW in females versus 63.3%–74.3%), and by the absence of mosaic gular patterns (versus presence); and from D. panlong by having a shorter tail (TAL 202.0%–218.2% in males versus 248.2%–268.0%), a wider (HW 68.12%–74.76% HL versus 63.4%–67.3%) and more robust head (HD 51.5%–60.2% HL versus 49.3%–52.4%), concealed tympana (versus mostly exposed), deeper transverse gular folds (versus shallow), distinct shape of dorsolateral stripes (strongly jagged versus smooth-edged), and by the presence of distinct gular spots in males (versus absence) (Wang et al. 2021).

Color in life: The dorsal surface of the head is Sinnamon-Drab (Color 50). A single Warm Sepia (Color 40) transverse band stretches across the forehead between the eyes. Loreal and suborbital regions of the head are Pale Buff (Color 1). Warm Sepia (Color 40) radial stripes are present around the eyes, of which the inferior ones are faint and indistinct. The stripe from the posterior corner of the eye to the rictus is the broadest. The lateral postorbital region of the head is Beige (Color 254). The oral cavity and inner lips are uniform Light Flash Color (Color 250). The background coloration of the dorsum is True Cinnamon (Color 260). The background coloration is darker and becomes Brunt Umber (Color 48) when it is close to the edge of the dorsolateral stripes. A strongly jagged, Light Sulphur Yellow (Color 93) dorsolateral stripe is present on each side of the body from the neck to the pelvis. In between the two dorsolateral stripes, five Brunt Umber (Color 48), somewhat rectangular patches are equally spaced along the dorsal midline of the body from the neck to the pelvis. Irregular Cream Color (Color 12) to Light Sulphur Yellow (Color 93) spots are present inferior to the dorsolateral stripes. Dorsal surfaces of the limbs are Pale Buff (Color 1) to pale Cinnamon-Drab (Color 50), with broad Beige (Color 254) to Burnt Umber (Color 48) transverse bands scattered from the proximal to distal ends. A white, narrow stripe with Raw Umber (Color 280) edges is present from the area lateral and superior to the cloaca to approximately 0.5 cm from the base of thigh on the posterior ventrolateral side of the hind limb on each side. The ventrolateral surfaces of the body are light Sulphur Yellow (Color 93). Dorsal and lateral surfaces of the tail are mostly uniform Beige (Color 254). The background coloration of the ventral surface of the head is Pale Buff (Color 1). Reticulated, Drab-Gray (Color 256) vermiculate stripes are present on the ventral surface of head. A Light Sulphur Yellow (Color 93) gular spot is present on the center of the gular pouch. Ventral surfaces of the body, limbs, and the tail are mostly uniform Pale Buff (Color 1). Coloration of the ventral body is slightly yellowish toward the most anterior and lateral portions (Wang et al. 2021). 
CommentSimilar species: D. brevicauda and D. yulongense

Publication date: The online publication time for the manuscript that describe the species (December 2020) is earlier than the publication time of the entire issue of the journal (January 2021), which is why the taxonomic authority is 2020 instead of 2021.

Conservation: The estimated extent of occurrence is approximately 700 km2 along the Jinsha River Valley. Most of the habitats overlapped with human inhabitations and major highways and are not covered by any existing natural reserves. Continuous expansions of agriculture and tourist infrastructure were observed between 2016 and 2019, which had led to serious habitat destructions of the species. According to IUCN criteria D2, we recommend listing the species as Vulnerable (VU).

EtymologyThe specific name, qilin, is derived from the Chinese name of the legendary beast (麒麟). According to Chinese mythology, Qilin is the son of the dragon, with a golden yellow body coloration, which matches the diagnostic gular color of the new species. 
  • Cai B., Zhang M. H., Li J., Du S. M., Xie F., Hou M., Zhou H. M., Jiang J. P. 2022. Three New Species of Diploderma Hallowell, 1861 (Reptilia: Squamata: Agamidae) from the Shaluli Mountains in Western Sichuan, China. Asian Herpetol Res. 13(4): 205–223 - get paper here
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