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Pholidoscelis exsul (COPE, 1862)

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Higher TaxaTeiidae, Teiinae, Gymnophthalmoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Puerto Rican Giant Groundlizard, Common Puerto Rican Ameiva 
SynonymAmeiva plei var. exsul COPE 1862: 66
Ameiva Riseii REINHARDT & LÜTKEN 1862 (fide BAUER & GÜNTHER 1994)
Ameiva riisei REINHARDT & LÜTKEN 1862 (Fide SCHWARTZ & HENDERSON 1988)
Ameiva exul — STEJNEGER 1904: 612
Ameiva exul — FOWLER 1918 (in error)
Ameiva exsul — GRANT 1931
Ameiva birdorum GRANT 1932: 160
Ameiva exsul — CAREY 1972
Ameiva exsul — SCHWARTZ & HENDERSON 1991: 191
Ameiva exsul — HOWER & HEDGES 2003
Ameiva exsul — HARVEY et al. 2012
Pholidoscelis exsul — GOICOECHEA et al. 2016 
DistributionPuerto Rico (including offshore islands), Vieques, Culebra, Virgin Islands (e.g. Anegada)

Type locality: Water Island, near St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.  
TypesHolotype: USNM 30696
Holotype: UMMZ 73854 [birdorum] 
DiagnosisDESCRIPTION: Size large (SVL in males 201 mm, in females to 99 mm); dorsal caudal scales keeled and straight; ventral scales 8-10 in a transverse row (mode 10) and 32-41 in a longitudinal row; fourth toe subdigital scales 67-83 (combined counts for both fourth toes); femoral pores 23-38 (combined counts for both series); fifteenth caudal verticil with 28-48 scales. Dorsum gray, light brown, olive, or black, with scattered, whitish spots, especially posteriorly; sides darker, with irregular black markings, at times tigroid, with interspersed white dots, rarely coalesced to form vertical stripes, but forming transverse dorsal "bars" in 1 subspecies; juveniles' pale dorsolateral stripes persistent in some populations; lateral dots fuse to form a lateral stripe; tip of snout and lower jaw pink; venter whitish to pearl gray with bluish tinge; throat pinkish to rose; pupil reniform, iris orange-brown; juveniles with white dots over entire dorsum, prominent yellow, cream, buff, or yellowish green dorsolateral stripes beginning on supraciliary scales; venter coppery (Schwartz & Henderson 1991: 191).

Comparisons: Harvey et al. 2012: 91 (Table 6) 
CommentIllustrations: Stejneger, 1904; Schmidt, 1928; Heatwole and Torres, 1967; Rivero, 1978; MacLean, 1982; Grobman, 1983. 
  • Angeli, Nicole Frances, Kristina Chyn and Kaycee Faunce. 2015. Ameiva exsul (Puerto Rican ground lizard) reproduction. Herpetological Review 46 (2): 249-250 - get paper here
  • Barbour, T. 1917. Notes on the herpetology of the Virgin Islands. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 30: 97-103. - get paper here
  • Barbour, Thomas 1930. Some faunistic changes in the Lesser Antilles. Proc. New England Zool. Club 11: 73-85
  • Bauer, A.M. and R. Günther 1994. An annotated type catalogue of the teiid and microteiid lizards in the Zoological Museum, Berlin (Reptilia: Squamata: Teiidae and Gymnophthalmidae). Mitt. Zool. Mus. Berlin 70:267-280 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, George A. 1896. Ueber einige Reptilien von der Insel Mona (Westindien). Jahrberichte und Abhandlungen aus dem Naturwissenschaftlichen Verein in Magdeburg 1894-1896: 112-114
  • Carey, W.M. 1972. The Herpetology of Anegada, British Virgin Islands. Carib. J. Sci. 12(1/2): 79-89.
  • Cooper Jr., W.E. 2005. Duration of movement as a lizard foraging movement variable. Herpetologica 61 (4): 363-372 - get paper here
  • Cope, E.D. 1862. Synopsis of the species of Holcosus and Ameiva, with diagnoses of new West Indian and South American Colubridae. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 14: 60-82. - get paper here
  • Fowler, H. W. 1918. Some amphibians and reptiles from Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Publ. Carnegie Inst. Washington, 252: 1-16.
  • Gemel, R.; G. Gassner & S. Schweiger 2019. Katalog der Typen der Herpetologischen Sammlung des Naturhistorischen Museums Wien – 2018. Ann. Naturhist. Mus. Wien, B 121: 33–248
  • Goicoechea, N., Frost, D. R., De la Riva, I., Pellegrino, K. C. M., Sites, J., Rodrigues, M. T. and Padial, J. M. 2016. Molecular systematics of teioid lizards (Teioidea/Gymnophthalmoidea: Squamata) based on the analysis of 48 loci under tree-alignment and similarity-alignment. Cladistics, doi: 10.1111/cla.12150 - get paper here
  • Grant, C. 1931. Notes on the Ameivas of Porto Rico. Copeia, 1931(2), 61-62 - get paper here
  • Grobman, A.B. 1983. The lizards of Virgin Gorda. Naturegraph Publ., Inc., Happy Camp, CA:5-23.
  • Heatwole, H., D.S. Sade & R. Hildreth 1963. Herpetogeography of Puerto Rico. I. Herpetofauna of Cayo Santiago and Cayo Batata. Carib. J. Sci. 3 (1): 1-5.
  • Heatwole, H.,and Torres, F. 1967. Distribution and geographic variation of the Ameivas of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Stud. Fauna Curaçao and Carib. Is. 24(92):63-1 11. - get paper here
  • Hedges SB, Powell R, Henderson RW, Hanson S, and Murphy JC 2019. Definition of the Caribbean Islands biogeographic region, with checklist and recommendations for standardized common names of amphibians and reptiles. Caribbean Herpetology 67: 1–53
  • HILEMAN, ERIC T.; ROBERT POWELL & MATTHEW E. GIFFORD. 2022. Senescence and Differential Size-based Survival in Puerto Rican Giant Groundlizards, Pholidoscelis exsul (Squamata: Teiidae), on Guana Island, British Virgin Islands. Herpetologica, 78(3):184-191. - get paper here
  • Hower, Lindsey M., and S. Blair Hedges 2003. Molecular phylogeny and biogeography of West Indian Teiid lizards of the genus Ameiva. Carib. J. Sci. 39 (3):298-306. - get paper here
  • Joglar, Rafael L.; Alberto O. Álvarez, T. Mitchell Aide, Diane Barber, Patricia A. Burrowes, Miguel A. García, Abimael León-Cardona, Ana V. Longo, Néstor Pérez-Buitrago, Alberto Puente, Neftalí Rios-López and Peter J. Tolson 2011. Conserving the Puerto Rican herpetofauna. In: Hailey et al., eds, Conservation of Caribbean Island Herpetofaunas Volume 2: 339-358 - get paper here
  • MacLean, W.P. 1982. Reptiles and amphibians of the Virgin Islands. MacMillan Caribbean, London: vii + 54 pp.
  • Philibosian, R.; Yntema, J. A. 1976. Records and status of some reptiles and amphibians in the Virgin Islands. I. 1968-1975. Herpetologica 32 (1): 81-85 - get paper here
  • Philibosian, R.; Yntema, J. A. 1978. Records and status of some reptiles and amphibians in the Virgin Islands. II. 1975-1976. Herpetologica 34 (1): 47-51 - get paper here
  • Reinhardt, JOHANNES & CHRISTIAN FREDERIK LÜTKEN 1862. Bidrag tii det vestindiske Öriges og navnligen tii de dansk-vestindiske Oers Herpetologie. Vidensk. Meddel. Naturhist. For. Kjöbenhavn (10-18): 153-291 [1862] - get paper here
  • Rios-López, N. & Aide, T.M. 2007. Herpetofaunal dynomics during secondary succession. Herpetologica 63 (1): 35-50 - get paper here
  • Rivero, J.A. 1978. Los anfibios y reptiles de Puerto Rico. M. Pareja Montana, 16, Barcelona, Espafia: x + 152 + 148pp.
  • Sánchez-Muñoz, Alejandro J. 2020. Envenomation of a Puerto Rican Whiptail (Pholidoscelis exsul: Teiidae) by a Puerto Rican Racer (Borikenophis portoricensis: Dipsadidae) in southern Puerto Rico. IRCF Reptiles & Amphibians 27 (1): 105–106 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, K.P. 1928. Scientific Survey of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands: Amphibians and land reptiles of Porto Rico, with a list of those reported from the Virgin Islands. New York Academy of Sciences 10 (1):160 pp.
  • Schwartz, A. & Henderson, R.W. 1991. Amphibians and Reptiles of the West Indies. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, 720 pp.
  • Stejneger, L. 1904. The herpetology of Porto Rico. Rept. United States Natl. Mus. 1902: 549-724. - get paper here
  • Tucker, Derek B.; | Stephen Blair Hedges | Guarino R. Colli | Robert Alexander Pyron | Jack W. Sites Jr 2017. Genomic timetree and historical biogeography of Caribbean island ameiva lizards (Pholidoscelis: Teiidae). Ecology and Evolution 7: 7080–7090. - get paper here
  • Werning, H. 2012. Zwischen Anolis und Cycluren: Unterwegs auf Puerto Rico. Reptilia (Münster) 17 (95): 100-109 - get paper here
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