New species of horned lizard discovered in southern Mexico

An article published in the current issue of the journal herpetological describes a new species of horned lizard that lives in Mexico. The size of the body, the length of the tail as well as the texture and arrangement of the scales distinguish this new species, which the authors propose to name Phrynosoma sherbrookei.

There are 16 recognized species of horned lizard, which range from Canada to Guatemala. Only four species have been found south of Mexico’s transvolcanic belt. These distinctive reptiles have scaly backs and sides and bony horns on their foreheads. To avoid predators, they rely on camouflage and an ability to inflate their bodies. Some species squirt blood by rupturing the capillaries surrounding their eyes. They adapt to dry habitats by using their tails to channel water over their backs and into their mouths and by collecting solar heat through their flat, rounded bodies.

In Guerrero, Mexico, 14 lizards collected from the Sierra Madre del Sur appeared to belong to an unrecognized species of Phrynosoma. The study authors analyzed tissue samples from these specimens to support their proposal for a new species. They took new DNA samples for all recognized Phrynosoma species and compared them with DNA from the newly collected lizards. They also generated a map illustrating the evolution of horned lizards to show how the newly described species developed. Their efforts produced a family tree-style chart for lizards that displays both the close and distant relationships between different species.

By comparing their results with previous studies and specimens of horned lizards from various museums and collections, the authors found that, unlike most horned lizards, individuals representing the new species have coarse scales. Their small size, short tail, and unique horns set them apart from the few other known species of rough-bellied lizards. Although they resemble a species found in southern Mexico, the authors argue that their DNA and physical appearance differ enough for them to be considered a new species.

New species of horned lizards are rarely considered threatened; however, the lizards collected in Guerrero appear to live in a small area and could benefit from protection until researchers can learn more about the population.


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More information:
The full journal article is available online: hljournals.org/doi/full/10.165 … ETOLOGICA-D-13-00077

Provided by Allen Press

Quote: New horned lizard species found in southern Mexico (2014, May 15) Retrieved February 28, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2014-05-horned-lizard-species-southern-mexico.html

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