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Rhampholeon tilburyi BRANCH, BAYLISS & TOLLEY, 2014

IUCN Red List - Rhampholeon tilburyi - Critically Endangered, CR

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Higher TaxaChamaeleonidae, Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Mount Namuli Pygmy Chameleon 
SynonymRhampholeon tilburyi BRANCH, BAYLISS & TOLLEY 2014
Rhampholeon platyceps — BRANCH & RYAN 2001: 282
Rhampholeon tilburyi TIMBERLAKE et al. 2010: 57 (nomen nudum)
Rhampholeon nov. sp. (tilburyi) TIMBERLAKE et al. 2010: 61 (nomen nudum)
Rhampholeon platyceps (tilburyi) TIMBERLAKE et al. 2010: 61 (nomen nudum)
Rhampholeon tilburyi — PORTIK et al. 2013: 416
Rhampholeon (Rhinodigitum) tilburyi — GLAW 2015 
DistributionMozambique (Zambézia: Namuli Massif)

Type locality: Ukalini Forest that nestles under the south face of the main Namuli peak, Namuli Massif, Zambézia Province, Mozambique (no S coordinate given, 15 ̊22'S 37 ̊04'E, ca 1550 m elevation.  
TypesHolotype: PEM R14921, adult female; Fig. 8D in BRANCH et al. 2014) collected by a local guide, 30 November 1998.
Allotype. An adult male (PEM R17132 , Fig. 8A) with everted hemipenes, collected by K.A. Tolley and S. van Noort, 26 May 2006, at night perched on a dead branch 50 cm above ground in a patch of forest dominated by overgrown tea (Camellia sinensis) on the SDZ Cha Sarl Tea Estate at Gurué, Namuli Massif, Zambézia Province, Mozambique (15 ̊26'51.6”S, 37 ̊00’,32.6”E, ca 839 m a.s.l.). Paratypes. Six specimens, comprising two females (PEM R17134, Fig. 8B, same collecting details as allotype; PEM R17135, perched on a tea bush in an overgrown patch of tea, on SDZ Cha Sarl Tea Estate at Gurué, 15 ̊26'42.8”S, 37 ̊00’,19.2”E); three males (PEM R17131, SDZ Cha Sarl Tea Estate at Gurué, 15 ̊26'49”S, 37 ̊00’,29”E; PEM R17133, same collecting details as allotype; PEM R20372, Muretha Plateau, Namuli Massif, Zambézia Province, Mozambique (15 ̊23'26”S, 37 ̊02’,03”E, ca 1804 m a.s.l.), collected by J. Bayliss 27 May 2007; and a very small juvenile (PEM R20373, same details as previous specimen). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: The Mount Namuli 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 apical “horns” with a variable number of thorn-like papillae arranged on the outer aspect of the horn; having an unpigmented parietal peritoneum, claws that are strongly bicuspid, smooth plantar surfaces, a rostral process, and short tail (<27% 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 Rh. platyceps and Rh. maspictus sp. nov. by its smaller size (<65mm total length) and weak crenulations of dorsal crest. It differs from all other members of the Rh. platyceps complex, including the populations from Mt Mabu, Mt Chiperone and Mt Inago, by retaining in adult males a prominent flexure (>32 ̊) of the snout in front of the orbit (flat or <1 ̊ in adult male Rh. platyceps and Rh. maspictus sp. nov.; <18% in the only known adult males of Rh. nebulauctor sp. nov. and Rh. bruessoworum sp. nov.), and a narrower head (HW/HL% 49.4%; 53.2–59.8% in all other species). Finally, the species is also genetically well differentiated from all other Rhampholeon, and all specimens examined form a monophyletic clade from Mt. Namuli. 
CommentSynonymy: after BRANCH et al. 214 (who do not cite any Timberlake et al. 21 paper but some other Timberlake papers that were published as Kew Royal Botanic Gardens reports.

Size. Largest male—PEM R17132 (allotype) 39.6 + 12.5 = 52.1 mm; largest female—PEM R14921 (holotype) 55.3 + 15.4 = 7.7 mm. The smallest male (SVL 33.2 mm) still has well-developed hemipenes, indicating that it is sexually mature (although testicular activity was not determined).

Habitat: The allotype and most paratypes were collected at night on perches from 3-5 cm above ground in forest adjacent to a mountain stream in a fallow areas of an operational tea estate that have overgrown into a forest.

Abundance: only known from its original description (Meiri et al. 2017). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is a patronym for our good friend Dr. Colin Tilbury for his outstanding contributions to knowledge of African chameleons, most recently exemplified in his magnum opus, the Chameleons of Africa (Tilbury 2010). For the last 30 years his travels throughout Africa in search of chameleons, combined with his stunning photography, have been a source of inspiration. His studies have done much to enhance our understanding of African chameleons, and it is with great pleasure that we name this chameleon in his honour. 
  • Bittencourt-Silva GB, Bayliss J, Conradie W. 2020. First herpetological surveys of Mount Lico and Mount Socone, Mozambique. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 14(2) [General Section]: 198–217 (e247) - get paper here
  • Branch, B. & Ryan, P.G. 2001. Additions to the Mozambique Herpetofauna: two new lizards from the Namuli Massif. Herpetological Review 32 (4): 281-282 - get paper here
  • 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
  • PORTIK, DANIEL M.; SCOTT L. TRAVERS, AARON M. BAUER, WILLIAM R. BRANCH 2013. A new species of Lygodactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) endemic to Mount Namuli, an isolated ‘sky island’ of northern Mozambique. Zootaxa 3710 (5): 415–435 - get paper here
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