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Liolaemus attenboroughi SÁNCHEZ, MORANDO & AVILA, 2023

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Higher TaxaLiolaemidae, Iguania, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymLiolaemus attenboroughi SÁNCHEZ, MORANDO & AVILA 2023
Liolaemus kingii — CEI 1975
Liolaemus kingii — CEI 1986
Liolaemus kingii — MINOLI, MORANDO & AVILA 2015 
DistributionArgentina (Chubut)

Type locality: Argentina; Chubut Province; Tehuelches Department; National Road 40, 39 km N of Gobernador Costa (43°51′22.5′′S, 70°54′57.4′′W, 859 m.a.s.l.)  
TypesHolotype: LJAMM-CNP 16782, adult male collected by L.J. Avila on 30 January 2018. Paratypes (n = 45): LJAMM-CNP, MLP 
DiagnosisLiolaemus attenboroughi sp. nov. belongs to the Liolaemus kingii group by having a generally dark background coloration, slightly stout body, longer distance between snout and vent, and higher number of scales around midbody compared to members of the L. lineomaculatus and L. magellanicus groups (Scolaro & Cei 1997; Breitman et al. 2013; Avila et al. 2020). Liolaemus attenboroughi sp. nov. has imbricated scales, not tridentated, its dorsal pattern is characterized by a conspicuous vertebral line blended with perpendicular well-defined lines that are wider in the vertebral portion of the body, becoming narrow in the lateral zone. (Sanchez et al. 2023)

Comparisons: Body size dimensions are smaller in Liolaemus attenboroughi sp.
nov. compared to several members of the kingii group, mainly L. archeforus, L. baguali, L. gallardoi, L. kingii, L. sarmientoi, L. somuncurae, L. tari, and L. tristis (three to six significantly different variables). The only exceptions include a higher head compared to L. kingii and L. tristis, and a longer tibia-fibula compared to L. scolaroi. Meristic differences are mainly concentrated in the number of scales around midbody, being higher in Liolaemus attenboroughi sp. nov. compared to L. archeforus, L. escarchadosi, L. gallardoi, L. sarmientoi, L. scolaroi, L. tristis, L. uptoni, and L. zullyae. The least amount of significant differences is found with L. chacabucoense (auditory meatus width), L. escarchadosi (number of scales around midbody), and L. zullyae (auditory meatus width and number of scales around midbody). (Sanchez et al. 2023)

Sexual dimorphism: present in all measurements, except rostral height and snout-vent length. Meristic attributes with sexual dimorphism include infradigital lamellae on the third finger and infralabial scales. Ventral variegation is present in most of the males and a few females. Females in life present basically the same dorsal and lateral color pattern observed in males, although they generally have a light brown background coloration. Paratypes LJAMM-CNP 11098 and 13114 (males) show a dorsal pattern of nearly complete transversal bands, resembling a L. kingii pattern. (Sanchez et al. 2023) 
CommentSimilar species: Liolaemus kingii, but showing an allopatric distribution.

Natural history: Liolaemus attenboroughi sp. nov. is known from the Patagonian Steppe of northwestern Chubut province, delimited in the north and east by the Chubut River and the west by the Andes mountain chain. Geographically, it is isolated from the remaining species of the L. kingii group. Collection sites are located in four vegetation units (Oyarzabal et al. 2018): (i) low steppe of Senecio algens and Oxalis compacta, dominated by camephytes and herbaceous hemicryptophytes (one locality); (ii) grass steppe dominated by Festuca pallescens (five localities); (iii) grassy shrub-steppe, dominated by gramineous Pappostipa speciosa, P. humilis, Poa ligularis, and P. lanuginosa, and the shrubs Adesmia volckmannii and Berberis microphylla (nine localities); and (iv) serran shrub steppe dominated by Colliguaja integerrima (three localities). 
EtymologyWe name this new species in honor to Sir David F. Attenborough, English broadcaster, biologist, natural historian, and author, in recognition of his immense contribution to the public understanding and appreciation of the biodiversity, and the necessity of its protection. While Attenborough’s earlier work focused more on the marvels of our planet, his later work has been more vocal in support of environmental causes, advocating for mitigate climate change, limit human population growth, and switch to renewable energies. 
  • Cei, J.M. 1986. Reptiles del centro, centro-oeste y sur de la Argentina; herpetofauna de las zonas aridas y semiaridas. Mus. Regionale di Sci. Natur., Torino, Monogr. 4: 527 pp.
  • Minoli I, Morando M, Avila LJ 2015. Reptiles of Chubut province, Argentina: richness, diversity, conservation status and geographic distribution maps. ZooKeys 498: 103-126. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.498.7476 - get paper here
  • Sánchez, K. I., Morando, M. & Avila, L. J. 2023. A new lizard species of the Liolaemus kingi group (Squamata: Liolaemidae) from northwestern Chubut province (Argentina) Zootaxa 5264 (2): 235-255 - get paper here
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