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Xantusia sierrae BEZY, 1967

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Higher TaxaXantusiidae (Xantusiinae), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Sierra Night Lizard 
SynonymXantusia vigilis sierrae BEZY 1967: 163
Xantusia ‘sierrae’ — SINCLAIR et al. 2004
Xantusia sierrae — COLLINS & TAGGART 2009
Xantusia sierrae — CROTHER et al. 2012
Xantusia sierrae — NOONAN et al. 2013
Xantusia vigilis sierrae — THOMSON et al. 2016 
DistributionUSA (California)

Type locality: "Granite Station, 9.1 mi (by rd) S Woody, 1700 ft elevation, Kern Co., California."  
Reproductionviviparous (not imputed, fide Zimin et al. 2022) 
TypesHolotype: UAZ (Univ. Arizona) 13905, adult male, collected by R. L. Bezy and W. C. Sherbrooke on 5 March 1965. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: “A supspecies [sic] of X. vigilis characterized by (1) large size (maximum snout-vent length 51 mm.), (2) a broad postorbital light stripe (Fig. 1), (3) an adult dorsal color pattern of interconnected somewhat nebulous dark spots (Fig. 2), (4) a high number of scales around midbody (42.0 +/- .27), (5) a high number of femoral pores (11.1 +/- .15), developed in both sexes, and (6) a high number of transverse rows of gulars (41.7 +/- .31). (Bezy 1967)

Description of the Holotype. An adult male: snout-vent length 46 mm.; tail length 63 mm. (38 mm. of which is regenerated); head length (from tip of snout to posterior edge of occipitals) 10.5 mm.; head width 7.8 mm.; head depth 4.6 mm.; ocular diameter 2.28 mm.; hind leg length 18.5 mm.; fourth toe length 5.5 mm. The rostral is approximately twice as broad as high. The arrangement of the dorsal head scales is typical for the species: a pair of internasals, a frontonasal, a pair of prefrontals, a frontal, a pair of frontoparietals, a pair of parietals separated by an interparietal, and a pair of occipitals. The frontal is separated from the interparietal by the medial contact of the two frontoparietals. The nostril is located at the junction of the nasal, internasal, and rostral. The nasals are followed by two loreals; the anterior one is higher than long, the posterior one longer than high. There are 16 (left side) /15 (right side) scales around the orbit, 7/9 supratemporals, 8/7 enlarged supralabials, 5 enlarged infralabials, and 4 submentals. On the right side of the head the seventh supralabial is higher than the sixth and contacts the postoculars, while on the left side it is lower than the sixth and is separated from the postoculars by an enlarged temporal ("pretympanic" of Savage, 1963, and Webb, 1965). There are 40 rows of gular scales between the postmentals and the gular fold and 30 rows between the ears. Along the gular fold are 8 enlarged scales. The ventrals are in 12 longitudinal rows and 32 transverse rows (inclusive of the two pairs of enlarged preanals). When adpressed the forelimb extends posteriorly to the 17th ventral and the hind limb anteriorly to the eighth ventral. They thus overlap each other for 10 ventrals. At the 16th ventral there are 43 rows of dorsal scales around the body (i.e., exclusive of the 12 rows of enlarged ventrals). There are 16 pairs of lamellae under the fourth finger and 23 pairs under the fourth toe. There are 11/10 enlarged femoral pores. The tail consists of 70 whorls of caudal scales, 39 of which are regenerated. The fifth caudal whorl is composed of 32 scales. The color pattern is produced by small, very dark brown (nearly black) dots or punctations on a yellow-white background. The variation in number of these dark punctations per scale produces the shades of color from yellow-white through a series of tans and browns to almost black that compose the color pattern of the type. The situation is further complicated in the living specimen by change in the size of the dots due to the concentration and dispersion of melanin in the melanophores. The dorsal surface of the head is olive brown becoming paler on the lateral surfaces. The scales around the eye are a slightly darker brown. The cream-tan postocular stripe involves the supratemporals, the parietals, and the lateral third of the occi pitals. Below this on the temporals is a dark brown postocular stripe that is two scales wide. The number of punctations becomes fewer ventrally on the head, the infralabials being light tan and the gulars having approximately five dots per scale. The gular region is suffused with pale blue. This is most intense on the medial six gulars in the area posterior to the angle of the jaw and anterior to the gular fold. There are a pair of yellow-tan light stripes that extend from the lateral edge of the occipitals posteriorly for approximately 12 dorsal scales. The dorsal pattern is reticulated and consists of interconnected dark brown (nearly black) spots, 4 to 6 scales large, that completely isolate the original yellow-tan ground color into discrete spots or flecks, one to three scales large. With the exception of the poorly defined, mid-vertebral dark strip (2 to 3 scales-wide), the medial 10 dorsal scales are a somewhat lighter brown than the rest of the dorsal pattern. The ventral surface of the body has few dark punctations on a suffused ground color of light blue-pink. The limbs are marked similarly to the dorsal surface of the body except that the undersurface of the feet is darker. The five mid-dorsal caudal scales are dark brown. Lateral to this is a vaguely defined light tan stripe (two scales wide) bordered below by dark brown. The color gradually lightens ventrally, the seven mid-ventral caudals being yellow-tan with few punctations. (Bezy 1967)

Comparisons. X. V. sierrae differs from X. v. vigilis, v. wigginsi, and v. gilberti in having: (1) 40 or more scales around body, (2) 39 or more trans verse rows of gulars, (3) 10 or more femoral pores, and (4) a reticulated dorsal color pattern of interconnected dark spots (Fig. 2). Each of these differ ences will properly segregate nearly 100% of the specimens studied except in the Onyx populations. These ecologically intermediate populations fall into both taxa on the basis of femoral pores, but are assignable to vigilis on the basis of scales around body, gulars, and color pattern. X. v. sierrae differs from v. utahensis in having a higher number of scales around body and femoral pores and in its distinctive color pattern. It differs from v. arizonae in having a higher number of gulars, in having femoral pores developed in the female, and in its color pattern. The differences in scale characters do not individually afford 100% proper subspecific allocation, but when taken in combination and in conjunction with the distinct differences in color pattern, little confusion can occur. (Bezy 1967)

Variation: Bezy 1967 
CommentHabitat/Ecomorph: rock-crevice 
EtymologyNot given explicitly by Bezy 1967, but apparently after its occurrence at the base of the Sierra Nevadas. 
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  • Noonan, Brice P.; Jennifer B. Pramuk, Robert L. Bezy, Elizabeth A. Sinclair, Kevin de Queiroz, Jack W. Sites Jr. 2013. Phylogenetic relationships within the lizard clade Xantusiidae: Using trees and divergence times to address evolutionary questions at multiple levels. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Volume 69, Issue 1, October 2013, Pages 109–122 - get paper here
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