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Monilesaurus acanthocephalus PAL, VIJAYAKUMAR, SHANKER, JAYARAJAN & DEEPAK, 2018

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Higher TaxaAgamidae (Draconinae), Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Spiny-headed lizard 
SynonymMonilesaurus acanthocephalus PAL, VIJAYAKUMAR, SHANKER, JAYARAJAN & DEEPAK 2018 
DistributionIndia (Megamalai)

Type locality: disturbed habitat, adjoining evergreen forest—tea garden edge in Upper Manalar, Periyar tiger reserve, Megamalai (934'35. 81"N, 7720'11. 43"E; 1562 m elevation.  
TypesHolotype: BNHS 2409, an adult male, collected by SPV on 8th April 2009. Paratypes. CES (given as CESL) 001 adult male and CESL 112 juvenile male collected by SPV on 8th April 2009; BNHS 2410 adult male collected by SPP on 4th September 2011 from Upper Manalar, Periyar tiger reserve, Megamalai (9°34'18. 25"N, 77°20'5. 02"E, 1547 m). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis and comparison. A medium sized agamid (SVL = 72.6 mm) characterized by backward and downward orientation of lateral body scales; antehumeral fold present, throat fold present; 62–64 midbody scale rows; nuchal crest composed of 6 long, well developed spines; dorsal crest developed, in the form of a serrated ridge; two long, separated supratympanic spines; a long, well developed postorbital spine; dorsal and lateral scales keeled, ventral scales strongly keeled; paired postmentals, first pair separated by a 1 or 2 scales; 22–24 subdigital lamellae under fourth finger, 27–31 subdigital lamellae under fourth toe; 9 supralabials and 8 infralabials; reddish brown above with alternating dark and light crossbars on the dorsum, two white spots below the eye.
Monilesaurus acanthocephalus gen. et sp. nov. can be can be distinguished from its congeners by a combination of the following characters: 62–64 midbody scale rows (vs. 46–52 in M. montanus gen. et sp. nov., 52–58 in M. ellioti and 52–56 in M. rouxii); presence of much longer, distinct isolated spine in the posterior corner of orbit (vs. absent in M. rouxii; very small, indistinct tubercle like in M. montanus gen. et sp. nov., and smaller in M. ellioti); 6 very long nuchal spines (vs. 3–6 small nuchal spines in M. montanus gen. et sp. nov., 3–4 long nuchal spines in M. ellioti, 7–8 smaller nuchal spines in C. rouxii); longer, prominent isolated spine on the back of head and above tympanum (vs. much smaller in M. montanus gen. et sp. nov., and M. rouxii) and presence of a white spot below the eye (vs. absent in M. rouxii; in the form of a band in M. montanus gen. et sp. nov.). 
CommentHabitat: semi-arboreal to arboreal, high elevation evergreen forests and along forest- tea garden edges. Individuals were seen perching on shrubs, branches and on tree trunks. One of the type specimens (CESL 410) was found sleeping on a tree branch in a forest patch.

Behavior: diurnal 
EtymologyThe species epithet is derived by combining the Greek word ‘acanthos’, meaning spine or thorn, and ‘kephale’ latinized as ‘cephalus’ meaning head; referring to the long posterorbital and supratympanic spines. 
  • Ganesh, S.R.; S. Bhupathy, P. Karthik, G. Babu Rao & S. Babu 2020. Catalogue of herpetological specimens from peninsular India at the Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology & Natural History (SACON), India. JoTT 12 (9): 16123–16135 - get paper here
  • PAL, SAUNAK; S.P. VIJAYAKUMAR, KARTIK SHANKER, ADITI JAYARAJAN & V. DEEPAK 2018. A systematic revision of Calotes Cuvier, 1817 (Squamata: Agamidae) from the Western Ghats adds two genera and reveals two new species. Zootaxa 4482 (3): 401–450 - get paper here
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