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Phrynocephalus axillaris BLANFORD, 1875

IUCN Red List - Phrynocephalus axillaris - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaAgamidae (Agaminae), Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Yarkand toad-headed agama
Chinese: 叶城沙蜥 
SynonymPhrynocephalus axillaris BLANFORD 1875: 192
Phrynocephalus axillaris — BOULENGER 1885: 378
Phrynocephalus axillaris var. idae BEDRIAGA 1907: 168
Phrynocephalus axillaris var. murielis BEDRIAGA 1907
Phrynocephalus axillaris var. ericae BEDRIAGA 1907
Phrynocephalus koslowi BEDRIAGA 1906: 162
Phrynocephalus kozlovi BEDRIAGA 1906 (fide ANANJEVA 2011)
Phrynocephalus axillaris var. Klemenzi BEDRIAGA 1907
Phrynocephalus axillaris var. maculata BEDRIAGA 1907 (nec ANDERSON 1872)
Phrynocephalus axillaris — ZUGMAYER 1909: 498
Phrynocephalus ludovici MOCQUARD 1910
Phrynocephalus axillaris — WERMUTH 1967: 76
Phrynocephalus nasatus GOLUBEV & DUNAYEV 1995
Phrynocephalus axillaris — WANG et al. 2003
Phrynocephalus (Phrynocephalus) axillaris — BARABANOV & ANANJEVA 2007
Phrynocephalus nasatus — DUNAYEV 2020 
DistributionC Asia (E Turkestan, Dsungarei, Mongolia, Tibet)
China (Xinjiang, Gansu)

Type locality: Eastern Turkestan, in the plains.

nasatus: W China; Type locality: between the mountain pass of Topa-Duvan (Topa-Bell, Karaduvan Ridge, 41° 11’ N, 80° 48’ E, and the town of Aksu (41° 11’ N, 80° 14’ E), Kashgaria, western China.  
TypesSyntypes: ZSI 3612-18, 3620, 3622-23, 3625-38, 3832-34, 4839-40. Most types of the various synonyms are in ZISP. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (nasatus): distinctly bulbous nasal shields fonn two kidney-shaped growths on the snout. The nostril opens in the lower nasal shield and is directed sideways from the longitudinal axis and down so that it can be seen only from below. The space between the nostrils is very wide and exceeds four to five times the space from the nostril to the edge of the supralabial fold. of males is 0.70-0.72, of the female and juvenile specimens 0.79-0.80. The front part of the snout is protuberant and breaks rather sharply at its end. A row of one to four enlarged shields (the shields of young specimens are less distinct) is situated along the center of the snout from the frontal curve to the edge of the upper lip fold near the rostral shield (Golubev & Dunayev 1995).

Holotype description. Medium-sized toad agama with a relatively long tail, which gets thi1111erra ther sharply towards the end. Except for the scales of the upper parts of the thighs and the distal third of the tail, which have some traces of ridges, the rest of the scales are smooth. The cap is round in shape, its back is not raised. It is covered by scales which are only slightly protuberant and larger in the front. The sinciput eye is surrounded by one or two rows of small scales, behind which in the back paii of the cap are several large scales, odd in shape. The regular scales on the back of the animal get smaller in size toward the sides of the body, and the darker patches of the pattern have thicker thornshaped scales. The lighter scales scattered on the back are also thick, but they are not thorn-shaped. The chin shield is joined from the right and from the left by a row of three to six lower jaw shields that gradually get smaller in size and which (the first pair excepted) do not touch the shields of the lower lip. The rest of the throat scales are slightly protuberant and more or less uniform. The scales on the bottom part of the body ai e flat, tile-like in appearance, with faintly recognizable thorns in the breast area. On the right and left sides at the beginning of the tail there are a number of polygonal thick scales fom1ing small but well visible thorns. The subdigital lamellae of the fourth toes of the hind limbs have two (or more rarely three) quite low ribs of the same size, each ending as a little thorn. The side of that toe that touches the fifth toe has a row of small sharpened fringes. The opposite side of the toe is devoid of them (Golubev & Dunayev 1995).

For a more detailed description and table comparing nasatus and axillaris, see Dunayev 2020. 
CommentSynonymy after WERMUTH 1967 and BARABANOV & ANAJEVA 2007. Dunayev 2020 “revalidated” P. nasatus but his description is unsatisfactory, e.g. because there were no localities of specimens given (neither in a list nor on a map). The characters pointed out to diagnose nasatus from axillaris are not shown (and if they are shown, as in Fig. 6, it’s not even clear which species is shown), hence we retain nasatus in axillaris for the time being. Notably, GenBank has 5 sequences of “nasatus” as of Feb. 2022 (citing Dunayev 2020), but oddly, the paper does not even mention those sequences or any other molecular analysis.

Type locality (nasatus): the locality, as described appears to be in a heavily degraded agricultural area now.

NCBI taxonID: 2802824 [nasatus] 
  • ANANJEVA, Natalia B.; Xianguang GUO and Yuezhao WANG 2011. Taxonomic Diversity of Agamid Lizards (Reptilia, Sauria, Acrodonta, Agamidae) from China: A Comparative Analysis. Asian Herpetological Research 2 (3): 117-128 - get paper here
  • Autumn, K.; Wang, Y.Z. 1995. Preliminary Observations on the Ecology of Phrynocephalus axillaris and Eremias velox in the Turpan Depression, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. Chinese Herpet. Res. 1 (2): 6-13
  • BARABANOV, A.V. & N.B. ANANJEVA 2007. Catalogue of the available scientific species-group names for lizards of the genus Phrynocephalus Kaup, 1825 (Reptilia, Sauria, Agamidae). Zootaxa 1399: 1-56 - get paper here
  • Bedriaga, J. von 1907. Wissenschaftliche Resultate der von N. M. Przewalski nach Central-Asien unternommenen Reisen.Zoologischer Theil, Amphibien und Reptilien, Band 3, Abt. 1, Lieferung 2: Lacertilia (Gekkonidae, Agamidae). Kaiserl. Akad. Wissensch., St. Petersburg, pages 71-278
  • Bedriaga, JACQUES VON 1907. Verzeichnis der von der Central-Asiatischen Expedition unter Stabs-Kapitän W. Roborowski in den Jahren 1893-1895 gesammelten Reptilien. Annu. Mus. Zool. Acad. Impér. Sci. St.-Petersbourg, 10 (3-4): 159-200 [1905] - get paper here
  • Blanford, WILLIAM T. 1875. List of Reptilia and Amphibia collected by the late Dr. Stoliczka in Kashmir, Ladák, eastern Turkestán, and Wakhán, with descriptions of new species. J. Asiatic Soc. Bengal, Calcutta, new ser., 44 (pt. 2, no. 3): 191-196. - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1885. Catalogue of the lizards in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. Geckonidae, Eublepharidae, Uroplatidae, Pygopodidae, Agamidae. London: 450 pp. - get paper here
  • Das, I. & Dattagupta B. 1997. On Chinese reptile types collected furing the second Forsyth expedition to Yarkand, Eastern Turkestan (1873). Sichuan Journal of Zoology 16 (4): 168-170
  • Dunayev, Evgeniy A. 2020. History of Study, Taxonomy, Distribution, and Ecology of Phrynocephalus nasatus Golubev et Dunayev, 1995 (Reptilia: Agamidae). Russian Journal of Herpetology 27 (2): 87-96 - get paper here
  • Golubev,M.L. & Dunayev,E.A. 1995. Phrynocephalus nasatus (Reptilia, Agamidae), a new species of toad agama from Western China. Russ. J. Herpetol. 2 (1): 5-9 - get paper here
  • Li, Jun; Xianguang Guo, Dali Chen, and Yuezhao Wang 2013. The complete mitochondrial genome of the Yarkand toad-headed agama, Phrynocephalus axillaris (Reptilia, Squamata, Agamidae). Mitochondrial DNA 24 (3): 234-236 - get paper here
  • Milto, Konstantin D.; Andrei V. Barabanov 2012. A Catalogue of the Agamid and Chamaeleonid Types in the Collection of the Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg. Russ. J. Herpetol. 19 (2): 155-170 - get paper here
  • Pang, Junfeng; Yuezhao Wang, Yang Zhong, A. Rus Hoelzel, Theodore J. Papenfuss, Xiaomao Zeng, Natalia B. Ananjeva and Ya-ping Zhang 2003. A phylogeny of Chinese species in the genus Phrynocephalus (Agamidae) inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 27: 398-409 - get paper here
  • Peters G. 1984. Die Krötenkopfagamen Zentralasiens (Agamidae: Phrynocephalus). Mitt. Zool. Mus. Berlin 60(1): 23-67
  • Schmidt,K.P. 1926. Amphibians and Reptiles of the James Simpson-Roosevelt Asiatic Expedition. Field Mus. nat. Hist., Zool. Ser. 12: 167-173 - get paper here
  • Wang, Kai; Jinlong Ren, Hongman Chen, Zhitong Lyu, Xianguang Guo Ke Jiang, Jinmin Chen, Jiatang Li, Peng Guo, Yingyong Wang, Jing Che 2020. The updated checklists of amphibians and reptiles of China. Biodiversity Science 28 (2): 189-218 - get paper here
  • Weizhao YANG,Tao ZHANG,Zhongyi YAO,et al. 2021. Transcriptome Sequencing Provides Evidence of Genetic Assimilation in a Toad-Headed Lizard at High Altitude. Asian Herpetological Research 12 (3): 315-322.[ - get paper here
  • Zhao,E. & Adler,K. 1993. Herpetology of China. SSAR, Oxford/Ohio, 1-522
  • Zugmayer,Erich 1909. Beiträge zur Herpetologie von Zentral-Asien. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Syst. 27: 481-508 - get paper here
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