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Higher TaxaAgamidae (Amphibolurinae), Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Harlequin Earless Dragon 
SynonymTympanocryptis fictilis MELVILLE, CHAPLIN, HIPSLEY, SARRE, SUMNER & HUTCHINSON 2019: 25 
DistributionAustralia (South Australia)

Type locality: 18 km NNE of Arckaringa Homestead, South Australia, 27°46’5100 S, 134°47’1100 E.  
TypesHolotype. SAM R46179, adult male. Collected by Ralph Foster and Sharon Downes, 30 September 1995. Paratypes. SAMA R44707, Douglas Dam Track, 4 km S Eucalyptus Waterhole, 27°36’4600 S, 134°35’5900 E, adult female; R46226, Nr Douglas Dam, Arckaringa, South Australia, 27°39’700 S, 134° 32’5500 E, adult female; R46228, 17 km NNE of Arckaringa Homestead, approximately 50 km SW of Oodnadatta, South Australia, 27°4703800 S, 134°4701300 E, adult male; R44647, 4 km S of Eucalyptus Waterhole, Douglas Dam Track, approximately 50 km W of Oodnadatta, South Australia; 27°3604600 S, 134°3505900 E, adult male; R44712, 1 km S of Eucalyptus Waterhole, Todmorden Station, approximately 50 km west of Oodnadatta, South Australia, 27°3500900 S, 134°3603600E, adult female; R48493-94, 4.1 km Ese Parke Camp Waterhole, Todmorden Station, South Australia, 27°20’4900 S, 134°29’2300 E, adult females; R58134-35, W of Stuart HWY, 18.3 km WSW of England Hill, 80 km N of Coober Pedy, South Australia, 28°1002700 S, 134°0104900 E, adult males; R58187, 16.7 km WNW of Pile Hill, South Australia, 28°4500100 S, 134°3202100 E, adult male. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A species of Tympanocryptis with smooth head and snout scales, rostral scale separated from the canthus rostralis, no lateral neck fold, smooth dorsal head scales, simple dorsal colour pattern of four dark dorsal cross-bands and no longitudinal five-lined pattern apart from traces of a vertebral line, ventral surface white.

Description. Lateral neck fold not developed. Head shape, very wide skull with very short snout. Head and snout with smooth or very weakly keeled dorsal scales. Snout shape convex in profile, with one to two rows of supralabial scales separating the rostral area from the canthus rostralis. Nasal scale dorsal margin extends on to the dorsal side of the canthus. Two to three enlarged scales along the ventral margin of the nasal scale, between the nasal and small snout scales. Dorsal body scales flat, unkeeled, not imbricate. Scattered enlarged dorsal scales, at least twice the width of adjacent body scales, each with a slightly raised central keel ending in a small spine and with a raised trailing edge; most enlarged scales also have two dark spots of pigmentation on trailing edge, either side of central keel. Enlarged spinous scales uniformly scattered across both dark dorsal cross-bands and paler interspaces, not arranged in longitudinal series. Ventral body scales and throat scales smooth. Lateral fold between axilla and groin absent. Thigh scalation heterogeneous, with scattered enlarged spinous scales similar to those on body. SVL to 51 mm in females and 49 mm in males.
Dorsal colour pattern pale cream to pale brown with four strongly contrasting but narrow darker transverse bands, and with lined pattern absent except for a discontinuous vertebral line in some individuals that is only visible on dark cross-bands; no longitudinal striped pattern on tail. Pale supra-orbital bar on the top of head very weak or absent. Lateral fold between axilla and groin absent.

Comparison with other species. Very distinctive, T. fictilis is readily distinguished by its smooth head and body scales, lack of a lateral neck fold (thereby having a very distinct neck) and having four (rather than five) strongly contrasting dorsal cross-bands on the body, with the dark cross-bands narrower than intervening pale background colour (versus five dark cross-bands or pale-outlined dark dorsal blotches as wide as the pale interspaces). Specimens of this species were first noted by Houston [43] as T. cephalus, because it lacks several characters that are typical of T. lineata sensu lato, such as the neck fold, strongly keeled head scales and keeled dorsal scales. In all of these respects, it resembles the T. cephalus complex and T. intima much more than its close relatives T. tolleyi and T. petersi. It occurs in near allopatry to its mitochondrial sister species T. tolleyi, current records separating them by about 50 km. The distribution of T. fictilis overlaps with the that of T. intima, from which it can be distinguished by having strongly contrasting dorsal cross-bands and enlarged dorsal tubercules scattered over the back (versus forming longitudinal series), and T. tetraporaphora, from which it can be distinguished by having smooth head and body scales and two pre-anal pores (versus keeled scales and two additional femoral pores).
CommentHabitat. Very open, often undulating, stony plains, including areas of low rock outcrops with sparse chenopod ground cover and scattered Acacia overstorey. Through much of this area, a common component of the ground surface is silcrete gravel, its smooth surfaces and white to pale beige colouring contrasting with the underlying light to dark reddish clay.

Distribution: see map in Melville et al. 2019: 6 (Fig. 1: species C) 
EtymologyFrom fictilis, Latin adjective meaning fashioned from clay, as in porcelain or pottery, referring to the smooth scale surface and strongly contrasting colours of this lizard that match the equally contrasting silcrete and clay substrate on which they live. 
  • Melville J, Chaplin K, Hipsley CA, Sarre SD, Sumner J, Hutchinson M. 2019. Integrating phylogeography and high-resolution X-ray CT reveals five new cryptic species and multiple hybrid zones among Australian earless dragons. R. Soc. open sci. 6: 191166 - get paper here
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