Friday 14 June 2013

Two new species of Woodlizard from northeast Peru.

Woodlizards (Enyalioides) are a group of Iguanas found living in woodland on either side of the Andes, from Bolivian north to Panama. The group has generally been viewed as being low-diversity, with seven species described in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but recent studies have revised this upwards, with three more species described in 2008-11, and it is now considered that there are likely to be more species living in unexplored forests in the Andean region.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 15 March 2013, Pablo Venegas of the División de Herpetología at the Centro de Ornitología y BiodiversidadOmar Torres-Carvajal of the Escuela de Biología at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador and the Department of Vertebrate Zoology at the National Museum of Natural History, Vilma Duran of the División de Herpetología at the Centro de Ornitología y Biodiversidad, and Kevin de Queiroz of the Department of Vertebrate Zoology at the National Museum of Natural History, describe two new species of Woodlizard from the Cordillera Azul National Park in northeastern Peru.

The first new species of Woodlizard is named Enyalioides azulae, in honour of the Azul National Park where it was found. The species is named from two adult males, two adult females and four juveniles, two of each sex, all collected from the same location in the montane rainforest of the Río Huallaga basin in northeastern Peru at an elevation of 1100 m, on a mountain ridge between the Región San Martín and Región Loreto. Seven of the eight specimens were captured sleeping on low vertical bush stems at night. One was encountered on a path in daytime after rain, it fled when approached and hid under a log.

Adult specimens of Enyalioides azulae reached about 140 mm in length. The species has strongly keeled ventral scales and shows sexual dichromatism; the males being green in colour and the females brown.

Enyalioides azulae, male (top) and female (bottom). Venegas et al. (2013).

The second new species is named Enyalioides binzayedi, in honour of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE, who created the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MBZSCF) to support species conservation projects around the globe.

The species is described from a single adult male, six adult females and a juvenile male specimens, all being found at the same location as those of Enzalioides azulae. All specimens were collected sleeping on plant stems at night. 

Enyalioides binzayedi is a 180 mm Woodlizard with a row of a row of spine-like strongly projecting scales extending backwards from the base of the skull. The species is variable in colour, with green and brown specimens being found in the sample, but this does not appear to be sex related.

Enyalioides binzayedi, adult male specimen. Venegas et al. (2013).

Map showing the site where the two new species were discovered. Venegas et al. (2013).

The habitat where the two new Woodlizard species were found. Venegas et al. (2013).

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