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Pedioplanis branchi CHILDERS, KIRCHHOF & BAUER, 2021

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Higher TaxaLacertidae, Eremiadinae, Sauria, Lacertoidea, Squamata (lizards)
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymPedioplanis branchi CHILDERS, KIRCHHOF & BAUER 2021
Eremias inornata ROUX 1907: 427
Eremias undata inornata — DAAN & HILLENIUS 1966: 129
Pedioplanis undata inornata — MAYER 1989
Pedioplanis inornata — BAUER & BRANCH 2003
Pedioplanis inornata — MAKOKHA et al. 2007 
DistributionNamibia (Erongo Region: south of the Swakop River in the South, to the Ugab River and the Brandberg in the north and Mount Erongo and Otjimbingwe in the east)

Type locality: Namibia, S of Karibib at Junction of Road D1914 and Road D1952, Karibib District, Erongo Region (-22.27038, 15.57471, 1080 m a.s.l.)
 
Reproductionoviparous; Breeding season appears to be similar to other southern African Pedioplanis spp. in spring, gravid females were found in December (Childers et al. 2021) 
TypesHolotype: CAS 214788, adult male; (field number AMB 6551) collected 8 June 2000 by Aaron M. Bauer.
Paratypes: n = 7 (adults); (two females: ZMB 89310, ZMB 89311; five males: CAS 214790, CAS 214792, CAS 214794, ZMB 89305, ZMB 89316) collected from various localities located in the Erongo Region of northwestern Namibia, CAS 214790; S of Karibib at the junction of Rd. D19414 and Rd. D1952 (-22.27281, 15.57815, 1075 m a.s.l.); collected 8 June 2000 by Aaron M. Bauer; CAS 214792; same collection data as for proceeding • CAS 214794; same collection data as for proceeding; ZMB 89305; 22 km SW of Uis along C35 (-21.42419, 14.76271, 831 m a.s.l.); 10 August 2014; ZMB 89316; 22 km SW of Uis along C35 (-21.34513, 14.75676, 884 m a.s.l.); 23 January 2013; ZMB 89310; Farm Friedhelm Sack (-22.52699, 15.54487, 709 m a.s.l.); 14 October 2014; ZMB 89311; same collection data as for proceeding; all ZMB specimens collected by Sebastian Kirchhof. Elevation data for the holotype and paratypes was obtained using the GPS, or, if not available, from Google Earth (earth.google.com) using georeferenced GPS coordinates from the collecting localities. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Distinguished from P. lineoocellata, P. laticeps and P. burchelli by having 10 longitudinal ventral scale rows (vs. 12 or more). It is distinct from P. benguelensis, P. gaerdesi, P. breviceps, P. namaquen¬sis and P. husabensis in usually possessing a semi-trans¬parent lower eyelid with a brille formed by 2–4 scales (brille formed by a single scale in P. benguelensis and P. gaerdesi, lower eyelid with eight opaque scales in P. husabensis and opaque and scaly in P. breviceps and P. namaquensis); in some rare cases P. branchi sp. nov. may possess a single transparent scale in lower eyelid, those individuals can be distinguished from P. benguel¬ensis and P. gaerdesi by color and dorsal patterning (see below). Dorsal patterning is characterized as being uni¬formly gray from the mid-back towards the head with a reddish hindbody (posterior half of body) and with a series of pale to bright yellow spots or ocelli on lower flanks, distinguishing it from P. rubens (dorsum and tail uniform red-brown to brick red, lacking conspicuous markings with only a hint of a slightly brighter dorso-lat¬eral line on each side), P. mayeri sp. nov., P. haackei, P. huntleyi, P. undata (dorsum contains bold stripes or other longitudinal elements), P. gaerdesi (never with lat¬eral ocelli, and speckled with very small black or light dots) and P. inornata (spots on flanks are typically pale green, not yellow). It can further be distinguished from all other Pedioplanis (except P. inornata) in typically having a pair of distinct dark markings on the face, one through the eye and extending onto the supralabials di¬rectly below and one more posterior, near the corner of the mouth. The new species is significantly smaller than P. inornata (P. branchi mean adult SVL = 44.4 mm, max. 49.1 mm, versus P. inornata mean adult SVL 47.3 mm, max. 54.0 mm for specimens sampled here; to 56.0 mm elsewhere [Bauer and Shea 2006]). The maturity of specimens was confirmed by their mostly or complete¬ly fused long bone epiphyses. We also provide several diagnostic characters based on the mitochondrial gene ND2. Pedioplanis branchi sp. nov. can be distinguished from all other members of the P. undata species complex except P. laticeps and P. undata in being characterized by having the amino acid histidine instead of tyrosine at base pair 359 due to a codon change at that position. It can also be distinguished from all other Pedioplanis species except P. laticeps in possessing a thymine at base pair 300, rather than an adenine (P. benguelensis, P. burchelli, P. gaerdesi, P. haackei, P. huntleyi, P. hus¬abensis, P. inornata, P. mayeri sp. nov., P. namaquen¬sis, P. rubens, P. undata) or a cytosine (P. breviceps and P. lineoocellata) (Childers et al. 2021).

Color in life: Dorsal coloration and pat¬tern varied considerably across examined specimens. Dorsum of head ranges from uniformly gray to distinctly speckled with black, sometimes with bold dark blotches or vertical bars. Body dorsum gray anteriorly and red-or¬ange posteriorly, sometimes bearing light or dark spots that can be arranged in longitudinal rows, or are irregu¬larly scattered, or may form horizontal bars or chevrons across the posterior dorsum near the tail base; belly uni¬form cream. The flanks may be patterned with light or dark irregular markings, sometimes forming vertical bars or chevrons, and are always lined with a more or less dis¬tinct longitudinal row of yellow spots or yellow-centered ocelli bordered by a broken ring of black granules, which range from 0.5–1.0 mm in diameter. The anterior surface of the thighs sometimes tinged with yellow; limbs and feet uniformly gray (front) or reddish–brown (hind), or speckled with light or black dots or blotches that may form bars. Dorsum of tail is orange–red, often with dense, black speckles (Childers et al. 2021)
 
Commentparapatry: P. husabensis; probably P. mayeri along its NE border.

Sympatry: Trachylepis sulcata, Rhoptropus boultoni, Agama planiceps, Matobosaurus validus, and Varanus albigularis, among others.

Similar species: P. inornata.

Conservation: Populations occur in protected areas within Namib-Naukluft Park and Tsiseb Conservancy, and possibly Dorob National Park. Applying IUCN criteria we consider P. branchi to be Least Concern. 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is a patronym formed in the genitive singular honoring the friend and colleague of the authors, the British-born South African herpetologist, William Roy Branch (1946–2018), in recognition of his many contributions to African herpetology and in remembrance of many happy trips in the field together 
References
  • Childers JL, Kirchhof S, Bauer AM 2021. Lizards of a different stripe: phylogenetics of the Pedioplanis undata species complex (Squamata, Lacertidae), with the description of two new species. Zoosystematics and Evolution 97(1): 249-272 - get paper here
  • Daan, S. & Hillenius,D. 1966. Catalogue of the type specimens of amphibians and reptiles in the Zoological Museum, Amsterdam. Beaufortia 13: 117-144
  • Makokha, Jane S.; Bauer, Aaron M.; Mayer, Werner; Matthee, Conrad A. 2007. Nuclear and mtDNA-based phylogeny of southern African sand lizards, Pedioplanis (Sauria: Lacertidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 44(2):622-633 - get paper here
  • Mayer, W. 1989. Comments on SZCZERBAK's (1975) catalogue of the African Sand Lizards (Reptilia: Sauria: Eremiainae). Herpetozoa 1 (3/4): 133-137 - get paper here
  • Roux,J. 1907. Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Fauna von Süd-Afrika. Ergebnisse einer Reise von Prof. Max Weber im Jahre 1894. VII. Lacertilia (Eidechsen). Zool. Jahrb., Abt. Syst., Geogr. Biol. Tiere (Jena), 25: 403-444 - get paper here
 
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