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Rhampholeon maspictus BRANCH, BAYLISS & TOLLEY, 2014

IUCN Red List - Rhampholeon maspictus - Near Threatened, NT

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Higher TaxaChamaeleonidae, Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Mount Mabu Pygmy Chameleon 
SynonymRhampholeon (Rhinodigitum) maspictus BRANCH, BAYLISS & TOLLEY 2014
Rhampholeon (Rhinodigitum) chapmanorum TILBURY 2010: 179
Rhampholeon sp. — TIMBERLAKE et al. 2012: 45
Rhampholeon sp. — BAYLISS et al. 2014: 179
Rhampholeon (Rhinodigitum) maspictus — GLAW 2015 
DistributionMozambique (Zambézia)

Type locality: vicinity of the main forest base camp, Mt. Mabu, Zambézia Province, Mozambique (16°17'10.1"S, 36°24'02.2"E; 967 m elevation  
TypesHolotype: PEM R18072, adult male (Fig. 5A, 6A in BRANCH et al. 2014) collected by a W.R. Branch, J. Bayliss & W. Conradie,
27 May 2009
Allotype. An adult female with a small ventral incision (PEM R18061, Fig. 5B, 5A), same collecting details as holotype. Paratypes. Eight specimens, comprising four males (PEM R18059, 18073 (Fig. 6B), 18074-75), same collecting details as holotype; three females (PEM R18069-70, 18076), same collecting details as holotype; and a hatchling (PEM R18068, Fig. 6C) 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: The Mt. Mabu Pygmy Chameleon is referable to the Rhampholeon (subgenus Rhinodigitum Matthee et al. 24) by possessing a short hemipenis that is almost bag-like, acalyculate and adorned with a pair of simple, curved apical “horns” with a variable number of thorn-like papillae arranged on the outer aspect of the horn; claws that are strongly bicuspid, smooth plantar surfaces, a rostral process, and short tail (<25% of total length in adult males). It can be distinguished from most other species in Rhampholeon (Rhinodigitum) by having deep inguinal (absent or indistinct in Rh. boulengeri, Rh. nchisiensis, Rh. uluguruensis, and Rh. moyeri) and axillary pits (also absent in Rh. nchisiensis). It differs from all other members of the Rh. platyceps complex by the bright green male breeding coloration, including blue flanks and side of head, and yellow throat, snout and eye ring (all of which may be retained even at night). It shares with Rh. platyceps, but differs from all other populations of the complex from Mt Chiperone, Mt Namuli and Mt Inago, its large size (>6 mm SVL) in both sexes, lack of male dwarfism, well-developed dorsal crenulations, and reduced rostral and supraocular processes; it differs from Rh. platyceps by its more dorsoventrally flattened habitus (more rounded in Rh. platyceps), and very weak or even absent accessory plantar spines (present but small in Rh. platyceps). Finally, the species is also genetically well differentiated from all other Rhampholeon, and all chameleons examined from Mt. Mabu form a monophyletic clade. 
CommentSize. Largest male—PEM R1874 (paratype) 65.2 + 2.1 = 85.3 mm; largest female—PEM R1869 (paratype) 64.4 + 16.2 = 8.6 mm. The smallest specimen—PEM R1868 (paratype, unsexed) 19.9 + 4.9 = 24.8 mm) appears to be newly hatched.

Abundance: only known from its original description (Meiri et al. 2017). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet derives from a combination of mas (L. = man) and pictus (L. = painted), alluding to the unusual bright colours of most males, which are often retained for long periods, even when sleeping at night. 
  • BRANCH, WILLIAM R.; JULIAN BAYLISS & KRYSTAL A. TOLLEY 2014. Pygmy chameleons of the Rhampholeon platyceps compex (Squamata: Chamaeleonidae): Description of four new species from isolated ‘sky islands’ of northern Mozambique. Zootaxa 3814 (1): 001–036 - get paper here
  • Conradie, Werner; Gabriela B. Bittencourt-Silva, Hanlie M. Engelbrecht, Simon P. Loader, Michele Menegon, Cristóvão Nanvonamuquitxo, Michael Scott, Krystal A. Tolley 2016. Exploration into the hidden world of Mozambique’s sky island forests: new discoveries of reptiles and amphibians. Zoosyst. Evol. 92 (2): 163–180, DOI 10.3897/zse.92.9948 - get paper here
  • CONRADIE, WERNER; WILLIAM R. BRANCH, & GILLIAN WATSON 2019. Type specimens in the Port Elizabeth Museum, South Africa, including the historically important Albany Museum collection. Part 2: Reptiles (Squamata). Zootaxa 4576 (1): 001–045 - get paper here
  • Glaw, F. 2015. Taxonomic checklist of chameleons (Squamata: Chamaeleonidae). [type catalogue] Vertebrate Zoology 65 (2): 167–246 - get paper here
  • Meiri, Shai; Aaron M. Bauer, Allen Allison, Fernando Castro-Herrera, Laurent Chirio, Guarino Colli, Indraneil Das, Tiffany M. Doan, Frank Glaw, Lee L. Grismer, Marinus Hoogmoed, Fred Kraus, Matthew LeBreton, Danny Meirte, Zoltán T. Nagy, Cristiano d 2017. Extinct, obscure or imaginary: the lizard species with the smallest ranges. Diversity and Distributions - get paper here
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