Jan 8 2011
This new species of earless lizard appears to be restricted to colder climates.
The genus Heterodactylus now includes a third species of elongate, short-limbed, earless lizards. H septentrionalis is the first new species of the genus discovered since 1862. One species occurs in the high-elevation Atlantic forests of southern Brazil, a second in a few mountainous sites in Minas Gerais. Both are very rare, with only about 15 known specimens in total. The new species was discovered more than 1,000km north of the previous northern record and, like its southern relatives, seems restricted to colder climates. It is speculated that the current geographic pattern resulted from fragmentation of populations that were widespread during cooler phases of the Quaternary period, and are now limited to high latitudes and elevations.
Quentin Wheeler is director of the International Institute for Species Exploration, Arizona State University
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