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Xantusia vigilis BAIRD, 1859

IUCN Red List - Xantusia vigilis - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaXantusiidae (Xantusiinae), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Desert Night Lizard
E: Sierra Night Lizard [sierrae]
E: Utah Night Lizard [utahensis]
E: Desert Night Lizard [vigilis]
S: Nocturna de las Yucas 
SynonymXantusia vigilis BAIRD 1859: 255
Xantusia vigilis — BOULENGER 1885: 327
Xantusia vigilis — SMITH & TAYLOR 1950: 154
Xantusia vigilis utahensis TANNER 1957
Xantusia vigilis — SAVAGE 1963: 35
Xantusia vigilis utahensis — BEZY 1982
Xantusia vigilis — STEBBINS 1985: 143
Xantusia vigilis — LINER 1994
Xantusia vigilis — SINCLAIR et al. 2004 
DistributionUSA (S California, S Nevada, S Utah, W/C Arizona, S Utah),
Mexico (W Sonora, Baja California Norte)

Type locality: Fort Tejon, California.  
TypesSyntypes: USNM 3063
Holotype: CAS 401 [gilberti]
Holotype: BYU 11733 [utahensis] 
CommentType species: Xantusia vigilis is the type species of the genus Xantusia BAIRD 1859.

Subspecies: SINCLAIR et al. (2004) did not recognize X. vi. utahensis and considered several taxa as “candidate species” (indicated in their paper and above by single quotes). For their arizonae, wigginsi and extorris, however, it remains unclear if they are morphologically diagnosable while ‘sierrae’ is. However, mtDNA haplotypes of sierrae nested within vigilis and is thus the most closely related form. Noonan et al. did not recognize any subspecies.

Xantusia vigilis arizonae KLAUBER 1931 and Xantusia vigilis wigginsi SAVAGE 1952 have been elevated to species level based on recognition by multiple authors.

Habitat: rocks and decomposing plants. 
EtymologyNamed after vigilis, Latin for alert, watchful.

The genus was named after John Xantus a.k.a Louis de Vesey (1825-1894), Hungarian-born naturalist who arrived in the US in 1850 and then had various jobs. 
  • Alibardi, L. 2021. Limb regeneration in lizards under natural and experimental conditions with considerations on the induction of appendages regeneration in amniotes. Annals of Anatomy-Anatomischer Anzeiger, 151844. - get paper here
  • Baird, S.F. 1859. Description of new genera and species of North American lizards in the museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 10: 253-256 [1858] - get paper here
  • Baker, Rollin H.; Baker, Mary W.; Johnson, Jerry D.; Webb, Robert G. 1981. New records of mammals and reptiles from Northwestern Zacatecas, Mexico. Southwestern Naturalist 25(4):568-569 - get paper here
  • Bartholomew, Breck 1992. Utah night lizard, Xantusia vigilis utahensis, Tanner. Intermontanus 1 (2): 3
  • Bartholomew, G.A., Jr. 1953. The Modification by Temperature of the Photoperiodic Control of Gonadal Development in the Lizard Xantusia vigilis Copeia 1953 (1): 45-50. - get paper here
  • Bezy, R L 1982. Xantusia vigilis Baird. Desert night lizard. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles ( 302: 1-4 - get paper here
  • Bezy, R.L. 2005. The Night Lizards (Xantusia) of Arizona. Sonoran Herpetologist 18 (2):14-19. - get paper here
  • Bezy, R.L. 2014. Desert Night Lizard, Xantusia vigilis Baird, 1859. Herpetofauna of the 100 Mile Circle. Sonoran Herpetologist 27 (1):7-11. - get paper here
  • Bezy, Robert L. 1967. A new night lizard (Xantusia vigilis sierrae) from the southern Sireea Nevada in California. Journal of the Arizona Academy of Science 4 (3): 163-167 - get paper here
  • Bezy, Robert L. and Oscar Flores Villela. 1999. A new species of Xantusia (Squamata: Xantusiidae) from Zacatecas, Mexico. Herpetologica 55 (2): 174-184. - get paper here
  • Bezy, Robert L.; Dean H. Leavitt, Michael D. Robinson, and Kathryn Bolles 2020. Biogeography of Night Lizards (Xantusia) in Arizona. Sonoran Herpetologist 33 (2): 28-40
  • Bezy,R.L. 1967. Variation, distribution, and taxonomic status of the Arizona night lizard (Xantusia arizonae). Copeia 1967 (3): 653-661 - get paper here
  • Bezy,R.L. & SItes, J.W. 1987. A preliminary study of allozyme evolution in the lizard family Xantusiidae. Herpetologica 43: 281-289 - 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
  • Brattstrom, B.H. 1952. The Food of the Nightlizards, Genus Xantusia. Copeia 1952 (3). 168-172. - get paper here
  • Burt, Charles E. 1933. Some lizards from the Great Basin of the West and adjacent areas, with comments on the status of various forms. American Midland Naturalist 14: 228-250 - get paper here
  • Caswell, H.H., Jr. 1950. Rhytmic Color Change in the Lizard Xantusia vigilis Copeia 1950 (2): 87-91. - get paper here
  • Cowles, R.B. 1952. Populations of Xantusia vigilis Threatened with Extermination Copeia 1952 (2): 118-119. - get paper here
  • Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2012. Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles, and Crocodilians, Seventh Edition. Herpetological Circular 39: 1-92
  • Deacon, James E.; W. Glen Bradley and Kenneth S. Moor 1966. Habitat of the Lizard Xantusia Vigilis in Southern Nevada. Southwestern Naturalist 11 (1): 126-128 - get paper here
  • Dunn, E. R.;Dunn, M. T. 1940. Generic names proposed in herpetology by E. D. Cope. Copeia 1940 (2): 69-76 - get paper here
  • Halliwell, B., Uller, T., Holland, B. R., & While, G. M. 2017. Live bearing promotes the evolution of sociality in reptiles. Nature Communications, 8(1): 2030 - get paper here
  • Hanley, G.H. 1942. Extension of the Range of Xantusia vigilis Copeia 1942 (3): 179. - get paper here
  • Heimlich, E.M. & M.G. Heimlich 1947. A Case of Cannibalism in Captive Xantusia vigilis Herpetologica 3 (5): 149-150. - get paper here
  • House, D. J. and A. G. Clause 2016. Geographic Distribution: Xantusia vigilis (Desert Night Lizard). Herpetological Review 47(3): 425. - get paper here
  • Hubbs, C.L. 1916. The Night Lizard of the Mojave Desert (Xantusia vigilis) in Winter Copeia 32: 52. - get paper here
  • Jones, K.B.; Abbas, D.R. & Bergstedt, T. 1981. Herpetological records from Central and Northeastern Arizona. Herpetological Review 12 (1): 16 - get paper here
  • Jones, L.L. & Lovich, R.E. 2009. Lizards of the American Southwest. A photographic field guide. Rio Nuevo Publishers, Tucson, AZ, 568 pp. [review in Reptilia 86: 84] - get paper here
  • Klauber, Laurence M. 1931. A new species of Xantusia from Arizona, with a synopsis of the genus. Transactions of the San Diego Society of Natural History 7 (1): 1-16 - get paper here
  • Klauber, Laurence M. 1938. Notes from a herpetological diary, I. Copeia 1938 (4): 191-197 - get paper here
  • Klauber, Laurence M. 1940. Notes from a herpetological diary, II. Copeia 1940 (1): 15-18 - get paper here
  • Kour, E.L. & V.H. Hutchison 1970. Critical thermal Tolerances and Heating and Cooling Rates of Lizards from Diverse Habitats Copeia 1970 (2): 219-229. - get paper here
  • Lemos-Espinal JA, Smith GR, Rorabaugh JC 2019. A conservation checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Sonora, Mexico, with updated species lists. ZooKeys 829: 131-160 - get paper here
  • Miller, M.R. 1951. Some Aspects of the Life History of the Yucca Night Lizard, Xantusia vigilis Copeia 1951 (2): 114-120. - get paper here
  • Miller, M.R. 1954. Further Observations on Reproduction in the Lizard Xantusia vigilis Copeia 1954 (1): 38-40. - get paper here
  • Morafka, David J.;Banta, Benjamin H. 1968. The addition of Xantusia vigilis (Reptilia: Lacertilia) to the known herpetofauna of Monterey County, California, with some ecological observations. Wasmann Journal of Biology 26 (1): 151-153 - get paper here
  • Morafka, David J.;Banta, Benjamin H. 1973. The distribution and microhabitat of Xantusia vigilis (Reptilia: Lacertilia) in the Pinnacles National Monument, San Benito and Monterrey Counties, California. Journal of Herpetology 7 (2): 97-108 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Papenfuss, T. J., Macey, J.R. & Schulte II, J.A. 2001. A new lizard in the genus Xantusia from Arizona. Scientific Papers of the Natural History Museum, University of Kansas (23): 1-9
  • Peterson, J. A. & Bezy, Robert L. 1985. The microstructure and evolution of scale surfaces in xantusiid lizards. Herpetologica 41 (3): 298-324. - get paper here
  • Pianka, E. R. 1966. Convexity, desert lizards, and spatial heterogeneity. Ecology 47 (6): 1055-1059 - get paper here
  • Pianka, E. R. 1967. On lizard species diversity: North American flatland deserts. Ecology 48 (3): 333-351 - get paper here
  • Ponce-Campos, P.; Huerta Ortega, S.M.; Noguiera González, C. & Smith, H.M. 2001. Natural history notes on the Southern Plateau Night Lizard, Xantusia sanchezi. Bull. Maryland Herp. Soc. 37 (1): 18-21 - get paper here
  • Savage, J. M. 1963. 'Studies on the Lizard Family Xantusiidae IV. The Genera. Contributions in Science, Los Angeles County Museum (71): 1 - 38 - get paper here
  • Savage, Jay M. 1952. Studies on the lizard family Xantusidae I. The systematic status of the Baja California Night Lizards allied to Xantusia vigilis, with the description of a new subspecies. American Midland Naturalist 48 (2): 467-479 - get paper here
  • Savage, Jay M. 1963. Studies on the lizard family Xantusidae IV. The Genera. Contributions in Science, Los Angeles (71): 1-38 - get paper here
  • Sinclair, Elizabeth A.; Robert L. Bezy; Kathryn Bolles; Jose L. Camarillo R.; Keith A. Crandall and Jack W. Sites, Jr. 2004. Testing Species Boundaries in an Ancient Species Complex with Deep Phylogeographic History: Genus Xantusia (Squamata: Xantusiidae). American Naturalist 164 (3): 396-414 - get paper here
  • Slevin, Joseph R. 1949. Range extension of Xantusia vigilis. Herpetologica 5: 148 - get paper here
  • Smith, H. M.; Holland, R. L. 1971. Noteworthy snakes and lizards from Baja California. Journal of Herpetology 5 (1-2): 56-59 - get paper here
  • Smith, Hobart M. 1946. Handbook of Lizards: Lizards of the United States and of Canada. Comstock, Ithaca, NY, xxii + 557 pp.
  • Stebbins, R.C. 1970. The effect of parietalectomy on testicular activity and exposure to light in the desert night lizard (Xantusia vigilis) Copeia 1970 (2): 261-270. - get paper here
  • Stebbins, Robert F. 1948. New distributional records for Xantusia vigilis with observations on its habitat. American Midland Naturalist 39 (1): 96-101 - get paper here
  • Stebbins,R.C. 1985. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, 2nd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston
  • Stejneger, L.H. 1893. Annotated list of the reptiles and batrachians collected by the Death Valley Expedition in 1891, with descriptions of new species. North American Fauna, No. 7: 159-228 (+ 14 plates + 4 maps) - get paper here
  • Storey, Margaret 1940. Xantusia vigilis in Utah and Nevada. Copeia 1940 (2): 135 - get paper here
  • Tanner, W. W. 1970. A catalogue of the fish, amphibian, and reptile types in the Brigham Young University Museum of Natural History. Great Basin Naturalist 30 (4): 219-226 - get paper here
  • Tanner, Wilmer W. 1957. A new Xantusia from southeastern Utah. Herpetologica 13 (1): 5-11 - get paper here
  • Tanner, Wilmer W. 1958. Herpetological range extensions. Herpetologica 14: 195-196 - get paper here
  • Turner, Frederick B. 1959. Xantusia v. vigilis in Death Valley National Monument, California. Copeia 1959 (2): 172-173 - get paper here
  • Turner, Frederick B.;Wauer, Roland H. 1963. A survey of the herpetofauna of the Death Valley area. Great Basin Naturalist 23 (3-4): 119-128 - get paper here
  • Van Denburgh,J. 1895. A review of the herpetology of Lower California. Part I - Reptiles. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (2) 5: 77-163 - get paper here
  • Vicario, Saverio; Adalgisa Caccone and Jacques Gauthier 2003. Xantusiid "night" lizards: a puzzling phylogenetic problem revisited using likelihood-based Bayesian methods on mtDNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 26 (2): 243-261 - get paper here
  • Webb, Robert G. 1965. A new night lizard (genus Xantusia) from Durango, Mexico. American Museum Novitates (2231): 1-16 - get paper here
  • Zweifel, R. G.;Lowe, C. H. 1966. The ecology of a population of Xantusia vigilis, the desert night lizard. American Museum Novitates 2247: 1-57 - get paper here
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