A group of Ecuadorian herpetologists led by Omar Torres-Carvajal, in collaboration with Steve Poe, described two species of anoles from the Andes in southern Ecuador. The study was published a few days ago in the Journal of Natural History. One of the new species is unique among known species from Ecuador in that it has a blue dewlap. It was therefore named Anolis hyacinthogularis, from the Latin words hyacinthus (=blue), and gula (=throat).
The second species, a short-limbed lizard commonly found on twigs as far as eight meters above ground, was named after Jonathan Losos. Most people visiting this blog know who this person is, so there is not much I dare mentioning about him, except that Ecuadorian biologists were lucky enough to have him as a guest a couple of years ago, and several Ecuadorian students and scientists have been inspired by his monumental work with anoles. Besides his obvious academic merit, Jonathan has a unique sense of humor and it’s just fun to be around him in the field. Who else refers to an aye-aye as a “sinister cross between Albert Einstein and Yoda”? (Improbable Destinies). Thank you Jonathan for your work!
Journal of Natural History, 2017. doi:10.1080/00222933.2017.1391343
Monkey lizards (Polychrus) are unique among Neotropical arboreal lizards in having strikingly long whip-like tails, as well as long limbs and digits. Interestingly, they resemble Old World chameleons in both morphology and behavior: slow-moving lizards with a laterally compressed body and cone-shaped eyes with partially fused eyelids. Although their phylogenetic position in the iguanid tree of life remains controversial, many authors argue that monkey lizards are the living sister taxon of anoles.
In a study published last week in PlosONE, we present a molecular phylogeny of all eight currently recognized species of Polychrus based on the largest geographic sampling to date. Our species tree places P. acutirostris as sister to all other species of Polychrus. While the phylogenetic position of P. gutturosus and P. peruvianus is poorly resolved, P. marmoratus and P. femoralis are strongly supported as sister to P. liogaster and P. jacquelinae, respectively. Moreover, recognition of the recently described P. auduboni and P. marmoratus sensu stricto as distinct species suggests that the populations of “P. marmoratus” from the Amazon and the Atlantic coast in Brazil represent separate species. Finally, species delimitation analyses suggest, among other things, that the populations of P. femoralis from the Tumbes region (southwestern Ecuador and northwestern Peru) might belong to a cryptic undescribed species.
During the last five years, herpetologists at the Museo de Zoología QCAZ, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE), have discovered and described 35 new species of amphibians and reptiles, some of which are anoles. BBC news recently posted a photographic article on this work, which was funded by the Ecuadorian government and PUCE. Anolis otongae and A. podocarpus are some of the recently discovered species featured in that article.
The Museo de Zoología QCAZ also maintains ReptiliaWebEcuador, a website on Ecuadorian reptiles with tons of information in Spanish, including pictures, maps, free downloads, and more. Visit us if you want to know more about Ecuadorian anoles.