Vhembelacerta rupicola (FITZSIMONS, 1933)
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|Higher Taxa||Lacertidae, Eremiadinae, Sauria, Lacertoidea, Squamata (lizards)|
|Common Names||E: Soutpansberg Rock Lizard|
|Synonym||Lacerta rupicola FITZSIMONS 1933: 278|
Lacerta rupicola — FITZSIMONS 1943: 325
Australolacerta rupicola — KIRCHHOF et al. 2010
Vhembelacerta rupicola — EDWARDS et al. 2013
|Distribution||Republic of South Africa (Soutpansberg in N Transvaal)|
Type locality: Lake Fundusi, Zoutpansberg Mtns., N. Tvl.
|Types||Holotype: DNMNH (= TM) 13989, half-grown female|
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis (genus). The monophyly of the monotypic genus Vhembelacerta is established on the basis of a suite of mitochondrial and nuclear markers (Edwards et al. 2012, 2013). Morphologically similar to Australolacerta (differences noted in brackets below), it can be distinguished from all other lacertids by the following combination of characteristics (FitzSimons 1943; Jacobsen 1989; Branch 1998;Kirchhof & Richter 2009): size small, (SVL ~52mm), maximum snout-vent length (SVL) 70mm, tail somewhat depressed basally, cylindrical distally, nearly 1.5x SVL (up to 2x SVL); upper head shields smooth; nostril pierced between a supranasal, 2 postnasals and narrowly separated from first upper labial (in contact with first upper labial); supranasals in contact behind rostral; frontonasal much broader than long; prefrontals in contact; frontal hexagonal; supraoculars 4, 1st smallest and separated from frontal; parietals in contact with 4thsupraocular; shallow parietal foramen present (absent); rostral not entering nostril; 5 (4) upper labials anterior to subocular, whose lower border is not distinctly narrowed (lower border much shorter than upper) and only feebly keeled; lower eyelid scaly but with a about 3 enlarged and elongate scales in the middle (no enlarged scales in lower eyelid); elongate tympanic shield on upper anterior border of large, exposed ear-opening; five pairs of chin shields, first smallest, first 3 in contact in midline; gular fold distinct (present, but not strongly marked); collar present, straight, free, composed of 7–8 scales; dorsal scales flat, hexagonal, faintly keeled posteriorly and in 34–43 rows across midbody (small, granular, non-keeled and about 68 across midbody); ventral plates quadrangular, feebly imbricate and in 6 longitudinal and about 26 (28) transverse rows; a very large preanal plate, bordered by smaller plates (enlarged preanal preceded by two smaller ones); femoral pores 15–19; subdigital lamellae smooth, about 26 below 4th toe (23–25); and the adpressed hindlimb reaches the armpit (to collar).|
|Comment||Type species: Lacerta rupicola FitzSimons 1933 is the type species of the genus Vhembelacerta Edwards, Herrel, Vanhooydonck, Measey, Tolley & Branch 2013.|
Coloration: top of head and dorsum dark brown, back with paired narrow reddish brown vertebral stripes, and a white dorsolateral stripe that extends from the eye to the tail base (head and dorsum olive-green, body with numerous spots that are yellow dorsally and white on flanks, demarcated by a dorsolateral series of orange spots).
|Etymology||Named after Latin “rupicola”, meaning rock-inhabiting.|
The genus was named after the Vhembe region of Limpopo Province, South Africa, where the species is endemic. The second part of the name “lacerta’ (L. lizard) also retains the historical link to the genus Lacerta to which the single species was originally referred.
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