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Varanus bangonorum WELTON, TRAVERS, SILER & BROWN, 2014

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Higher TaxaVaranidae, Platynota, Varanoidea, Anguimorpha, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Bangon Monitor Lizard 
SynonymVaranus bangonorum WELTON, TRAVERS, SILER & BROWN 2014
Varanus (Soterosaurus) bangonorum — BUCKLITSCH et al. 2016: 50 
DistributionPhilippines (Mindoro)

Type locality: 230 m above sea level (12.787806, 120.915972; WGS-84), Sitio Aruyan, Barangay Malisbong, Municipality of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro Province, Island, Philippines  
Reproductionoviparous (manual imputation, fide Zimin et al. 2022) 
TypesHolotype: PNM 9798 (formerly University of Kansas Natural Biodiversity Institute = KU 335744; Field no. RMB 17757), sub-adult male, collected by SLT and RMB, 16 July 2013.
Paratopotypes. KU 335742 (RMB Field No. 17720), juvenile, collected 11 July 2013. Paratypes. KU 335743 (RMB Field No. 17824), juvenile, Lake Libuao, Barangay Malisbong, Municipality of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro Province, Mindoro Island, Philippines; PNM 9799 (formerly KU 308403), 308437 (ELR Field Nos. 843, 877), juvenile and adult female, Sitio Ulasan, Barangay Harrison, Municipality of Paluan, Occidental Mindoro Province, Mindoro Island, Philippines; KU 305151, 305161, 305163 (CDS Field Nos. 714, 715, 648), juveniles, Barangay Tinogboc, Municipality of Caluya, Antique Province, Semirara Island, Philippines. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Varanus bangonorum can be distinguished from congeners by (1) distinct, relatively large dark spots or blotches in the gular region; (2) low counts of dorsal gular scales; (3) low counts of dorsal trunk scales; and (4) low counts of scales around the neck anterior to the gular fold. Additionally, this distinct lineage is biogeographically circumscribed on the deepwater islands of Mindoro and Semirara.

Comparisons. This new species in phenotypically most similar to Varanus marmoratus, from which it can be distinguished by the presence of distinct, dark and irregularly-shaped spots or blotches in the gular region (versus speckling and transverse bands; Fig. 3), and an allopatric distribution on the islands of Mindoro and Semirara (versus Luzon and Lubang islands, and the Batanes and Babuyan island groups; Figs. 1, 2). Additionally, although the new species is phenotypically similar to V. marmoratus, it is not closely related to this species (Fig. 2, phylogeny). Varanus bangonorum can be distinguished from its closest but allopatric relative, V. palawanensis, by having generally fewer rictus–rictus scales (mean = 56 ± 4, versus 62 ± 4), fewer dorsal scales from the tympanum to the gular fold (mean = 26 ± 2, versus 32 ± 3), fewer dorsal scales from the nuchal fold to the hind limb insertion (mean = 80 ± 9, versus 96 ± 3), fewer total dorsal scales (mean = 106 ± 10, versus 128 ± 3), fewer scales around the neck anterior to the gular fold (mean = 76 ± 6, versus 87 ± 4), and by having distinct, dark irregular spots or blotches in the gular region (versus irregular speckling with anterior transverse bands). Of the remaining geographically proximate species of the V. salvator Complex, this new species can be distinguished from V. nuchalis by a distribution on Mindoro and Semirara islands (versus Visayan islands), generally fewer midbody scales (mean = 136 ± 9, versus 150 ± 7), generally more dorsal scales from the tympanum to the gular fold (mean = 26 ± 2, versus 23 ± 2), and the presence of distinct dark spots or blotches in the gular region (versus a uniform dark gular coloration). Additionally, this new species can be distinguished from the allopatric Bicol species V. dalubhasa by having distinct, irregularly shaped spots or blotches (versus variable speckling and faint anterior transverse bands) in the gular region. Lastly, V. bangonorum exhibits entirely unique haplotypes or haplotype networks, relative to all other members of the V. salvator Complex (see Welton et al. 2010a,b). We have constrained our morphological analyses to the geographically most proximate taxa due to previous studies (Koch et al. 2007, 2010b) demonstrating their distinctiveness relative to the remaining diversity within the V. salvator Complex (Welton et al. 2014). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet, bangonorum, is a plural noun derived from the name of the indigenous Bangon peoples of Mindoro Island, who reside along the rivers and central Cordillera mountain system in Oriental Mindoro Province. Anthropologists have shown the Bangon tribal group to be culturally distinct from other tribal groups inhabiting Mindoro (Tweddell 1970; Mangyan Heritage Center). 
  • Welton, Luke J.; SCOTT L. TRAVERS, CAMERON D. SILER, RAFE M. BROWN 2014. Integrative taxonomy and phylogeny-based species delimitation of Philippine water monitor lizards (Varanus salvator Complex) with descriptions of two new cryptic species. Zootaxa 3881 (3): 201–227 - get paper here
  • Zdunek, P., & Webb, M. S. 2023. Observation records of the Bangon Monitor Lizard, Varanus bangonorum (Squamata, Varanidae), with emphasis on behaviour and local threats, from the Municipality of Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro, Philippines. Herpetozoa, 36, 1-8 - get paper here
  • Zimin, A., Zimin, S. V., Shine, R., Avila, L., Bauer, A., Böhm, M., Brown, R., Barki, G., de Oliveira Caetano, G. H., Castro Herrera, F., Chapple, D. G., Chirio, L., Colli, G. R., Doan, T. M., Glaw, F., Grismer, L. L., Itescu, Y., Kraus, F., LeBreton 2022. A global analysis of viviparity in squamates highlights its prevalence in cold climates. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 00, 1–16 - get paper here
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