Scientists discover new species of wood lizards in Peru | Biology

An international team of researchers has discovered a new species of the genus lizard Enyalioides living in the pre-montane forest of the Río Huallaga basin in central Peru.

Feiruz Wood Lizard Holotype (Enyalioides feiruzae). Image credit: PJ Venegas.

“The Huallaga drainage flows north of the Cordillera Oriental in central Peru and has an extension of 1,138 km, making it the largest tributary of the Marañon River,” said lead author Dr Pablo Venegas, researcher at the Instituto Peruano de Herpetología, Rainforest Partnership, and the Centro de Ornitología y Biodiversidad, and his colleagues.

“This basin is home to a wide variety of ecosystems, including the Yuga, which are considered a refuge for endemic birds, mammals and amphibians.”

“In order to improve our knowledge of the herpetofauna of the Huallaga watershed, we conducted field surveys between 2011 and 2018, which led to the discovery of a new species of wood lizard.

The newly discovered species belongs to the wood lizard genus Enyalioides.

“Among the hoplocercine lizards, the wood lizards (Enyalioides) represent one of the South American lizard groups with the highest species discovery rate (corrected for clade size) this century, ”the researchers said.

“Our discovery brings to 16 the number of known species of Enyalioides, of which only seven were known in previous centuries.

Named the Feiruz Wood Lizard (Enyalioides feiruzae), the new species comes in an astonishing variety of colors.

Males may have turquoise-brown, gray, or greenish-brown backs with pale lines.

Females, in turn, can be greenish-brown or mealy brown, with faint dark brown lines on the back, limbs and tail, and spots on the sides.

“We believe that Enyalioides feiruzae could have established itself as a separate species after being geographically separated from a very similar lizard, Enyalioides rudolfarndti, possibly due to tectonic activity and climatic oscillations that occurred from the late Oligocene to the early Miocene, ”the scientists said.

“The habitat of Enyalioides feiruzae is highly fragmented by cropland and pasture for cattle ranching, and so far we only know of one protected population in Tingo Maria National Park.

“Much remains to be discovered about the size and distribution of Enyalioides feiruzae populations and their ability to survive and adapt in a fragmented landscape.

the Discovery is described in the newspaper Evolutionary systematics.

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PJ Venégas et al. 2021. A new species of wood lizard (Hoplocercinae, Enyalioides) from the Río Huallaga basin in central Peru. Evolutionary systematics 5 (2): 263-273; doi: 10.3897 / evolsyst.5.69227

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