Sunday, 8 April 2012

A new species of Semiaquatic Spectacled Lizard from southern Peru.

Spectacled Lizards, or Microteiids, are small lizards from Central and South America related to Teiids (Whiptails) and skinks. They have transparent lower eyelids (hence spectacled) and often show reduction or absence of the limbs, particularly the hind-limbs. The Semiaquatic Lizards of the genus Potamites and Neusticurus are a distinct group within this family, noted for their semiaquatic lifestyle.

On 31 January 2012, in a paper in the journal ZooKeys, Germán Chávez and Diego Vásquez of the Centro de Ornitología y Biodiversidad (CORBIDI), describe a new species of the genus Potamites from two locations in southern Peru.

The new species is named Potamites montanicola (the mountain dwelling Semiaquatic Lizard), and is distinguished from other members of the genus principally by the presence of scattered keeled scales on its dorsal surface; in other members of the genus keeled scales or tubercles are arranged in longitudinal rows.

Potamites montanicola. (A) Male. (B) Female. (C) Juvenile. Chávez & Vásquez (2012).

Potamites montanicola is an approximately 175 mm long (when adult) brown lizard. Mature males have black and blue patterned undersides and darker brown colouration on their backs. The flank has a pair of black eyespots with yellow centers forward and above the first limbs. The underside of the tail is reddish brown. Females and juveniles are plainer brown, though the eyespots are present (but fainter) on mature females.

The lizards were found at two sites in southern Peru, 64 km apart, in the Cordillera de Vilcabamba mountain range and Apurimac river valley, at altitudes between 1570 and 2100 m. One location was a stream with a rocky substrate, the lizards being found both on the rocks and in the water, the other was in a wooded area where the lizards were found on leaf litter and fallen trunks close to a creek.

Map of southern Peru, showing the locations where the lizards were collected. Chávez & Vásquez (2012).

There are two other species of the genus Potamites known from Peru; P. ecpleopus and P. strangulatus. P. strangulatus has two known subspecies, P. s. strangulatus and P. s. trachodus. Both of these are lowland species, not known from above 800 m.

Species of Potamites found in Peru. (A) Potamites montanicola. (B) Potamites strangulatus strangulatus. (C) Potamites ecpleopus. (D) Potamites strangulatus trachodus. All from Chávez & Vásquez (2012). (B & C) Photographed by Alessandro Catenazzi. (D) Photographed by Pablo J. Venegas.

Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.


  1. Hi friends,
    Very good blog post I love your site keep up the great posts.

  2. Astonishing looking lizards, the keeled scales are a revelation!

  3. i wonder if b is found in the trees it seem like all 4 leg daipsid repitle evolution on the ground or close to surface of water all have bumpy scutes skin on there backs like dinosaurs. more of a ground lifestyle scutes get bigger this shows dinosaurs are not related birds because dinosaurs could not climb trees temperature on the trees must be differant than on the ground. smood skin lizard most lizard have ancester from the trees that why they have differant look from tuatara tortoise crocodilian dinosaurs. probly all about thermoregulation . that kind of look like the chinese crocodile lizard probly related to the caiman lizard.turtle tortoise probly is a daipsid probly all modern reptle are close related they look the same .snakes came from the lizard crocodilian came from the dinosaurs in fact is a dinosaurs aquatic dinosaurs. dinosaurs are primtive crocodilian dinosaurs breathing system is of a aligator hepatic piston diaphragm and have many other crocodilian feature.

  4. reptile wood temperature13 April 2012 at 19:39

    on thermoregulation on reptiles is not about altitude like mountion evolution chinese crocodile lizard is found in the mountion. is about tree temperature evolution . not all reptile on the ground have scutes like snakes or in the water soft shell turtle have no scutes and 1 sea turtle and a primtive marine about strong evolution pressure of a ground lifestyle how fast it evolution strong evolution on the ground most of the animal would have scutes even live in trees it would be a slow evolution you see most turtles and crocodilian and dinosaurs species have scutes on there back