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Heterodactylus septentrionalis RODRIGUES, DE FREITAS & SILVA, 2009

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Higher TaxaGymnophthalmidae (Gymnophthalminae), Heterodactylini, Sauria, Gymnophthalmoidea, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymHeterodactylus septentrionalis RODRIGUES, DE FREITAS & SILVA 2009 
DistributionBrazil (Bahia: Chapada Diamantina)

Type locality: Fazenda Caraibas (13°09’49’’S, 41°24’19’’W), district of Cascavel, municipality of Mucuge, Serra do Espinhaco (Chapada Diamantina): state of Bahia: Brazil.  
TypesHolotype: MZUSP 98087, adult female, collected by Marco Antonio de Freitas and Thais Figueiredo Santos Silva on 5 July 2007, field number MTR 13998. Paratype.—MZUSP 95588, adult female, col- lected by Marco Antonio de Freitas and Thais Figueiredo Santos Silva on 8 December 2005, field number MTR 11786, all other data as for the holotype. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A small Heterodactylus (maximum SVL 52 mm) with a vestigial interparietal, 37–39 dorsal and 27–29 ventral transverse scale rows, 23–25 scales around body, 9–11 fourth finger and 14–15 fourth toe infradigital lamellae, and six gular scale rows. It differs from H. imbricatus (data in parenthesis) by its smaller size (maximum SVL 125 mm); by having a sixth supralabial extremely wide, high, and diagonally disposed (narrow and low); posterior margin of ventral scales almost straight (rounded); anterior dorsal scales smooth (lanceolate and strongly keeled along the entire dorsum); and contact between parietals restricted to their anterior part (parietal scales in extensive contact). Heterodactylus septentrionalis can be immediately separated from H. lundii by the absence of contact between frontal and interparietal. In H. lundii, the parietal scales are broadly separated by the contact between interparietal and the posterior part of frontal which is extremely long. In H. septentrionalis, the posterior part of frontal is short and frontal and interparietal are broadly separated either by a broad contact between anterior part of parietals (holotype) or by the presence of a narrow and elongate azygous scute that follows frontal. In H. lundii, the parietals are longer than wide, whereas in H. septentrionalis, they are wider than long. In H. lundii there is a small scale following the sixth supralabial before the granular scales of the correspondent ear opening area; in H. septentrionalis such scale does not exist and is fused to sixth supralabial which reaches the granules of the ear depression. Posterior dorsal scales of H. lundii are clearly keeled and mucronate; in H. septentrionalis, the central part is broadly elevated but lacking keel. Posterior ventral scales are slightly longer than wide in H. lundii; they are almost twice as long as wide in H. septentrionalis. The two species also differ in number of scales around midbody: 27–29 in H. lundii versus 23–25 in H. septentrionalis. Finally, the body of H. lundii its not as elongate as that of H. septentrionalis. This is confirmed by comparison between SVL and the distance between posterior margin of foreand hind limbs in the two species (Fig. 3). This difference in body elongation also explains why H. septentrionalis, which has much longer ventrals than its congener, does not show a significant difference in number of ventral scales. There are no important differences between these two species in any other scale counts, which are as follows (data for H. lundii and H. septentrionalis, respectively): dorsals (38–39 vs. 37–39); ventrals (26–27 vs. 27–29); fourth finger infradigital lamellae (9– 12 vs. 10–11); fourth toe infradigital lamellae (15–18 vs. 14–15); and number of gular rows (6– 7 vs. 6).
Heterodactylus septentrionalis and H. lundii are very similar in body size (maximum SVL 52 and 60 mm, respectively), which immediately separated them from the much larger H. imbricatus. In addition to body size, several morphological characters readily distinguish H. imbricatus from the smaller H. lundii and H. septentrionalis. The sixth supralabial is narrow and low in H. imbricatus, whereas it is extremely large, and diagonally disposed in H. lundii and H. septentrionalis, in which it is fused to the temporal below the postocular. The posterior margin of ventral scales is rounded in H. imbricatus but almost straight in H. lundii and H. septentrionalis. Dorsal scales in H. imbricatus are lanceolate, strongly keeled along the entire dorsum, only the posterior dorsals are keeled in H. lundii and they are smooth in H. septentrionalis. Parietal scales are in broad contact medially, and their posterior margin is almost straight in H. imbricatus; this is not the case in the two smaller species where they are rounded posteriorly and widely separated by the contact between frontal and interparietal (H. lundii) or the contact between parietals is restricted to their anterior part (H. septentrionalis). Finally, the first finger is absent in the three species, but there is a vestigial tubercle marking its position in H. imbricatus, whereas there is no vestige of its presence in H. lundii and H. septentrionalis (Rodrigues et al. 2009).

Heterodactylus septentrionalis is characterized by very elongate body and tail, absence of external ear opening, presence of moveable eyelids, absence of prefrontals and frontoparietals, a vestigial interparietal, 37–39 dorsal and 27–29 ventral transverse scale rows, 23–25 scales around midbody, six gular scale rows, and 10–11 and 14–15 fourth finger and fourth toe infradigital lamellae, respectively. The new species is most similar to Heterodactylus lundii from which it differs by the absence of contact between frontal and interparietal, by having wider than long parietals, smooth posterior dorsal scales, posterior ventral scales almost twice longer than wide, a lower number of scales around midbody, last supralabial in contact with the granules of the ear depression, and a more elongate body. 
CommentDistribution: The new species occurs about 1,100 km north of the northernmost known record of H. lundii. Species of Heterodactylus seem to be restricted to areas of cold climates associated with high latitudes and mountainous areas of eastern Brazil.

Abundance: only known from its original description (Meiri et al. 2017). 
EtymologyA reference to the northern occurrence of the new species. 
  • Freitas, M.A.; D. Veríssimo; V. Uhlig. 2012. Squamate Reptiles of the central Chapada Diamantina, with a focus on the municipality of Mucugê, state of Bahia, Brazil. Check List 8(1):16-22 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Rodrigues, Miguel T., Marco Antonio de Freitas and Thais Figueiredo Santos Silva. 2009. New species of earless lizard genus Heterodactylus (Squamata: Gymnophthalmidae) from the Highlands of Chapada Diamantina, State of Bahia, Brazil. Journal of Herpetology 43 (4): 605-611 - get paper here
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