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Smaug giganteus (SMITH, 1844)

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Higher TaxaCordylidae (Cordylinae), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Giant Girdled Lizard, Giant Dragon Lizard, Sungazer 
SynonymCordylus giganteus SMITH 1844: 35
Zonurus derbianus GRAY 1845
Zonurus giganteus — BOULENGER 1885: 253
Cordylus giganteus — ABRAHAM 1981
Cordylus giganteus — BONETTI 2002
Smaug giganteus — STANLEY et al. 2011
Smaug giganteus — BATES et al. 2014: 209 
DistributionRepublic of South Africa (small scatterd populations in NE OFS, extreme W Natal and SE Transvaal)

Type locality: “Interior districts of South Africa on pinnacles of Quathlamba Mountains”.  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1946.8.8.20-21 
DiagnosisDefinition: Body subcylindrical in cross-section, large to very large (maximum SVL 112–205 mm), robust. Limbs of moderate length, digits unreduced. Dorsal and caudal scales enlarged and spinose; occipital spines greatly enlarged. Nasal scales not in contact with one another. Frontonasal scale in broad contact with the rostral scale. Tongue partly or fully pigmented. Osteoderms distributed across entire body. Viviparous, giving birth to 1–6 young (Stanley et al. 2011). 
CommentType species: Cordylus giganteus SMITH 1844 is the type species of the genus Smaug STANLEY et al. 2011.

Key: Bates & Stanley 2020: 34 provide a key to the species of Smaug. 
EtymologySmaug is the name of the dragon encountered by Bilbo Baggins, the protagonist of J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit. According to Tolkien the name is derived from the Old German verb smeugen – to squeeze through a hole. Like the type species, Smaug lived underground and was heavily armored. Appropriately Tolkien was born in the Free State province, South Africa, the core area of distribution of the type species. The name is masculine. 
  • Abraham, Gerhard 1981. Das Portrait: Cordylus giganteus - Riesengürtelschweif (A. Smith, 1844). Sauria 3 (1): 1-2. - get paper here
  • Adolphs, Klaus & Tröger, Michael 1987. Lebensweise, Haltung und Zuchtproblematik des Riesengürtelschweifs Cordylus giganteus A. Smith, 1844. Herpetofauna 9 (46): 28-33. - get paper here
  • ARMSTRONG, A.J. 2011. Status of the Sungazer Smaug giganteus in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. African Herp News (54): 1-4 - get paper here
  • Bates MF, Stanley EL. 2020. A taxonomic revision of the south-eastern dragon lizards of the Smaug warreni (Boulenger) species complex in southern Africa, with the description of a new species (Squamata: Cordylidae). PeerJ 8:e8526 - get paper here
  • Bates, M.F.; Branch, W.R., Bauer, A.M.; Burger, M., Marais, J.; Alexander, G.J. & de Villliers, M.S. (eds.) 2014. Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, 512 pp.
  • Bonetti, Mathilde 2002. 100 Sauri. Mondadori (Milano), 192 pp. - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1885. Catalogue of the lizards in the British Museum (Natural History). Vol. 2, Second edition. London, xiii+497 pp. - get paper here
  • Branch, William R. 1993. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers, 144 S.
  • Broom 1913. An adult female of the large S. African Lizard, Zonurus giganteus, ... Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1913: 548 - get paper here
  • Fitzsimons, Vivian Frederick Maynard 1965. The Giant Girdled Lizard or Sungazer (Cordylus giganteus A. Smith). Fauna & Flora (Pretoria), 1965: 29-32.
  • Gray, J. E. 1845. Catalogue of the specimens of lizards in the collection of the British Museum. Trustees of die British Museum/Edward Newman, London: xxvii + 289 pp. - get paper here
  • Groenewald, G. H. 1992. The Relocation of Cordylus giganteus in the Oranje Free State, South Africa: Pitfalls and possible Preventions Therof. J. Herp. Assoc. Africa (40): 72-77 - get paper here
  • Harport, V. & Reissig, J. 2020. Herpetofauna-Tour im Osten Südafrikas. Elaphe 2020 (5): 34-44
  • Hewitt, John 1911. Records of South African Lacertilia and Amphibia, Addenda and Corrigenda. Annals Transvaal Museum 3 (1): 42-55. - get paper here
  • Jacobsen, N.H.G.; Newbery, R.E.; Petersen, W. 1989. On the ecology and conservation status of Cordylus giganteus in the Transvaal. South African J Zoology 25 (1): 61-66
  • Koch-Isenburg, L. 1977. Der Riesengürtelschweif Cordylus giganteus A. Smith aus Südafrika. Bericht Naturw. Ver. Darmstadt, (Vivarium Darmstadt Inf.), N.F., 1977: 4-5.
  • Lambiris, A.J.L. 1987. Geographical Distribution - Cordylus giganteus. J. Herp. Assoc. Africa (33): 29-29 - get paper here
  • Langerwerf, B. 2001. Keeping and breeding the sungazer (Cordylus giganteus). Reptiles, California, 9 (6): 58 - 65
  • Marais, Johan 1984. Notes on the giant girdled lizard Cordylus giganteus A. Smith. British Herpetological Society Bulletin (10): 30-33.
  • McLachlan, Geoff R. 1986. Geographical Distribution. Reptilia: Sauria: Cordylidae: Cordylus giganteus, A. Smith. J. Herp. Assoc. Africa 32: 30. - get paper here
  • Mouton, le Fras; Alexander Flemming; Michael Bates and Chris Broeckhoven 2018. The relationship between generation gland morphology and armour in Dragon Lizards (Smaug): a reassessment of ancestral states for the Cordylidae. Amphibia-Reptilia 39 (4): 445–456 - get paper here
  • MOUTON, P. LE FRAS N.; DAHNÉ A. JANSE VAN RENSBURG and JOHANNES H. VAN WYK 2010. Epidermal glands in cordylid lizards, with special reference to generation glands. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 158: 312–324. - get paper here
  • Parusnath, S & Nielsen, S. 2011. Smaug giganteus Smith 1844 Giant Girdled Lizard or Sungazer. African Herp News (55): 25-26 - get paper here
  • Parusnath, S. 2012. Smaug giganteus (A. Smith, 1844) Sungazer. Predation. African Herp News (58): 13-14 - get paper here
  • Paulduro, E. & U. Krabbe-Paulduro 1987. Anmerkungen zur Lebensweise, Haltung und Zuchtproblematik des Riesengürtelschweifs, Cordylus giganteus A.SMITH, 1844. Sauria 9 (4): 9-17 - get paper here
  • Petersen, Wally;Newbery, Richard;Jacobsen, Niels 1985. Cordylus giganteus is alive and well and living at Rietpoort. Fauna & Flora (South Africa) (42): 26-29
  • Petzold, Hans-Günter 1974. Cordylus giganteus, A. Smith, 1844, Riesengürtelschweif (Familie: Cordylidae, Gürtel- und Schildechsen). Aquarien und Terrarien (Leipzig), 21 (5): 170-171.
  • Reissig, J. 2014. Girdled Lizards and Their Relatives. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, ISBN-10: 3899734378
  • SCHEUN, J.; R. CAMPBELL, A. GANSWINDT & T. MCINTYRE. 2021. Hot and Bothered: Alterations in Faecal Glucocorticoid Metabolite Concentrations of the Sungazer Lizard, Smaug giganteus, in Response to an Increase in Environmental Temperature. African Zoology 56(3): 222–230. - get paper here
  • Schmidt, P. 1924. Jugendform des Riesengürtelschweifs Zonurus giganteus Smith. Blätter für Aquarien- und Terrarienkunde (Stuttgart), 35: 336-337.
  • Schwier, H. 2007. The Giant Girdled Lizard – Cordylus giganteus. Reptilia (GB) (52): - get paper here
  • Schwier, H. 2007. Der Riesengürtelschweif Cordylus giganteus - einzigartig und mysteriös zugleich. Reptilia (Münster) 12 (65): 40-44 - get paper here
  • Schwier, H. 2007. Gürtelschweife - die Gattung Cordylus. Reptilia (Münster) 12 (65): 16-23 - get paper here
  • Smith, A. 1844. Illustrations of the zoology of South Africa, Reptilia. Smith, Elder, and Co., London - get paper here
  • Stanley, Edward L.; Aaron M. Bauer; Todd R. Jackman, William R. Branch, P. Le Fras N. Mouton 2011. Between a rock and a hard polytomy: rapid radiation in the rupicolous girdled lizard (Squamata: Cordylidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 58(1): 53-70. - get paper here
  • Switak, Karl H. 1981. Der Riesengürtelschweif oder Südafrikanische Sonnengucker, Cordylus giganteus. Das Aquarium, 15 (136): 537-541.
  • Switak, Karl H. 1995. Girdle-tailed lizards of the genus Cordylus. Reptiles 3 (6): 8-24
  • VAN WYK, J. H. 1994. Physiological changes during the female reproductive cycle of the vivparous lizard Cordylus giganteus (Sauria: Cordylidae). Herpetologica 50 (4): 480 - 493 - get paper here
  • VAN WYK, J. H. 1995. The male reproduction cycle of the lizard, Cordylus giganteus. Journal of Herpetology 29 (4): 522-535 - get paper here
  • van Wyk, Jaco C. P. and Casper Swarts 2002. Cordylus giganteus, Giant Girdled Lizard of Sungazer. behaviour. African Herp News (35):16-17 - get paper here
  • Welzel, Andreas 1981. Cordylus giganteus. Herpetofauna 3 (11): 17. - get paper here
  • Werning, H. 2015. Die Rückkehr der Urzeitechsen. Reptilia (Münster) 20 (114): 16-25 - get paper here
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