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Higher TaxaLiolaemidae, Iguania, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
DistributionArgentina (Salta)

Type locality: Argentina, Salta, Rosario de Lerma, Between San Bernardo de las Zorras and El Rosal (24°24´09.10´´0S; 65°46´36.50´´W) 3301 m elevation.  
TypesHolotype: IBIGEO 5665, adult male, collected by Hibbard T., Lobo F., Quipildor M., Slodki D. on 7 April 2017.
Paratypes: (n=75): IBIGEO 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Liolaemus messii sp. nov. is a member of the L. ornatus group (sensu Abdala, 2005, 2007), due to high number of precloacal pores in females (Abdala, 2005). Within the L. ornatus group, L. messii sp. nov.can be differentiated from other species by a set of characters.
Liolaemus messii sp. nov. specimens can be differentiated from L. albiceps and L. irregularis for having a smaller snount-vent length (Max SVL=71.71 mm vs. 83.62 mm and 83.52 mm respectively). At the same time, L. messii has larger snout-vent length than L. calchaqui and L. crepuscularis (Max SVL= 71.71 mm vs. 48.22 mm and 53.83 mm, respectively). Liolaemus messii can also be differentiated from L. calchaqui for having females with a larger number of precloacal pores (5–9 vs. 1–3 respectively). The tail length of L. messii sp. nov. (72.64–98.29 mm) is smaller the tail length of L. irregularis (98.31–144.38 mm). The trunk length of L. messii (22.90–33.07 mm) is smaller than the one of L. irregularis (34.60–43.73 mm). The foot length of L. messii (12.49–18.10 mm) is smaller than that of L. albiceps (18.30–24.07 mm) and L. irregularis (18.15–24.78 mm). The humerus width of L. messii sp. nov. (1.49–3.05 mm) is smaller than that of L. irregularis (3.31–4.30 mm). The length of the hand in L. messii sp. nov. (7.45–10.74 mm) is smaller than that of L. irregularis (10.80–13.65 mm).
The hemipenes of Liolaemus messi sp. nov. differ from others species of the L. ornatus group in the following characteristics: in the asulcate face, L. crepuscularis, L. irregularis and L. ornatus have 3 continuous flounces while L. albiceps and L. lavillai present between 3 and 5; L. messi sp. nov. presents 2 or 3. L. albiceps, L irregularis, L. lavillai, L. ornatus, and L. messii present between 4 and 6 discontinuous flounces, while L. crepuscularis present 9. The hump in L. albiceps, L. lavillai and L. messi sp. nov. is rounded while in L. crepuscularis, L. irregularis and L. ornatus it is up pronounced. L. irregularis has the smallest hemipenis corrected to the SVL (5 to 6 % to the SVL), while L. crepuscularis, L. lavillai, L. ornatus, and L. messii present longer hemipenes corrected to SVL (8 to 10 % to the SVL) (Ruiz et al. 2021). 
CommentDiet: Liolaemus messii is omnivorous (Ruiz et al. 2021).

Habitat: Liolaemus messii sp. nov. inhabits the region of San Bernardo de las Zorras, Rosario de Lerma department, province of Salta. This area belongs to the phytogeographical Prepuna region (Cabrera, 1976), characterized by a rough relief caused by an intense metereorization under an arid, cold and windy climate. Regarding the region’s vegetation, it could be defined as an arbustive and herbaceous steppe (Cabrera, 1976) formed mainly by Bulnesia Schickendazii, Tunilla soehrensii and Maihueniopsis boliviana.

Sympatry: L. yanalcu, Tachymenis peruviana (a confirmed predator of L. messii), Bothrops ammodytoides (likely predator) (Ruiz et al. 2021). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet messii is in honor of Lionel Andrés Messi, a recognized Argentinean soccer player consecrated worldwide but above all a world example of humility and chivalry. Frequently considered as the best player in the world in actuality and one of the best of all time, he is the only player in history who has won, among other distinctions, six times the Golden Ball (two Golden Balls and four FIFA Golden Balls), the first four consecutively, in addition to receiving six Golden Boots, a FIFA World Player and a The Best FIFA. In 2020, he became the first player to receive a Laureus award. 
  • Abdala, C.S. 2005. Sistemática y filogenia del grupo de L. boulengeri (Iguania: Liolaemidae, Liolaemus) en base a caracteres morfológicos y moleculares. PhD thesis. Universidad Nacional de Tucumán. 277 pp.
  • Abdala, C.S. 2007. Phylogeny of the boulengeri group (Iguania: Liolaemidae, Liolaemus) based on morphological and molecular characters. Zootaxa 1538: 1-84 - get paper here
  • Ruiz, S., Quipildor, M., Ruiz-Monachesi, M. R., Escalante, L., Valdecantos, S., & Lobo, F. 2021. Diversification and geological history of the Liolaemus ornatus group (Squamata: Iguania) of Argentina including the recognition of a new species. Zoologischer Anzeiger - get paper here
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