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We describe a new species of anguid lizard of the genus Mesaspis from the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes of northwestern Guatemala. This species reaches a maximum snout–vent length of about 72 mm, making it much smaller than Mesaspis moreletii. In the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes it occurs sympatrically with Mesaspis moreletii temporalis, the only such instance of congeneric sympatry known in Nuclear Central America. The new species appears most similar to the widely distributed species M. moreletii, which may be polytypic. Mesaspis cuchumatanus may be distinguished from M. moreletii by usually having expanded supranasals, 16 longitudinal scale rows, small and granular scales covering the side of the neck from about the level of upper edge of auricular opening to ventrolateral fold, and smaller body size.
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Journal of Herpetology, Vol. 50, No. 2, 327–336, 2016
Copyright 2016 Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
A New Species of Mesaspis (Squamata: Anguidae) from the High Cuchumatanes
of Guatemala
ISRAEL SOLANO-ZAVALETA,
1
ADRIA
´NNIETO-MONTES DE OCA,
1
AND JONATHAN A. CAMPBELL
2,3
1
Laboratorio de Herpetologı´a, Museo de Zoologı´a ‘‘Alfonso L. Herrera,’’ Departamento de Biologı´a Evolutiva, Facultad de Ciencias,
Universidad Nacional Aut ´
onoma de Me´xico, Apartado Postal 70-153, Me´xico, DF, Me´xico
2
Department of Biology, UTA Box 19498, UT–Arlington, Arlington, Texas, USA
ABSTRACT.—We describe a new species of anguid lizard of the genus Mesaspis from the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes of northwestern
Guatemala. This species reaches a maximum snout–vent length of about 72 mm, making it much smaller than Mesaspis moreletii. In the
Sierra de los Cuchumatanes it occurs sympatrically with Mesaspis moreletii temporalis, the only such instance of congeneric sympatry
known in Nuclear Central America. The new species appears most similar to the widely distributed species M. moreletii, which may be
polytypic. Mesaspis cuchumatanus may be distinguished from M. moreletii by usually having expanded supranasals, 16 longitudinal
scale rows, small and granular scales covering the side of the neck from about the level of upper edge of auricular opening to
ventrolateral fold, and smaller body size.
RESUMEN.—Se describe una nueva especie de lagartija del ge´nero Mesaspis de la Sierra de los Cuchumatanes al noroeste de Guatemala.
Esta especie alcanza una longitud hocico-cloaca aproximada de 72 mm, por lo que es significativamente ma´s pequen˜a que M. moreletii.
Esta especie se encuentra en simpatria con M. moreletii temporalis en la Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, el ´
unico caso de simpatrı´a del ge´nero
en Ame´rica Central Nuclear. La nueva especie parece ser ma´s similar a Mesaspis moreletii que tiene una distribuci ´
on ma´s extensa y que
puede ser politı´pico. Mesaspis cuchumatanus se puede diferenciar de M. moreletti por tener las supranasales usualmente expandidas, 16
filas de escamas longitudinales, escamas pequen˜ as y granulares cubriendo los lados del cuello desde el borde superior de la apertura
auricular hasta el pliegue ventrolateral, y un cuerpo ma´ s pequen˜ o.
The herpetofauna of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes of
northwestern Guatemala remains poorly known, despite recent
discoveries of a multitude of salamanders, anurans, and lizards
(e.g., Campbell and Brodie, 1992; Ko¨hler and Smith, 2008;
Campbell et al., 2010; Mendelson et al., 2012). Not surprisingly,
this range harbors a high number of endemic species, many of
which are restricted to relatively modest-sized ranges within the
region such as a single mountain slope or peak (e.g., Duellman
and Campbell, 1992; Campbell et al., 1998, 2010).
Several genera of anguids are present in the Cuchumatan
highlands, but because of their rarity they can hardly be considered
to be a conspicuous component of the herpetofauna. The first
species of Abronia from the region was reported from the southern
flanks of the range by Campbell and Frost (1993), who allocated a
single individual documented only by photographs to Abronia
aurita.Abronia frosti was described from the northern part of the
range by Campbell et al. (1998). Subsequently, several specimens
tentatively identified as Abronia ochoterenai have been taken at
several localities in the northern part of the Cuchumatanes.
Another anguid genus occurring at high elevations in the
Cuchumatanes is Mesaspis. Among species of the genus Mesaspis,
M. moreletii (Bocourt, 1872) sensu lato has the widest distribution.
This species occurs in disjunct populations from the highlands of
Chiapas, Mexico, on both the Meseta Central and in the Sierra
Madre (Smith and Taylor, 1950), across the Nuclear American
highlands (Campbell and Vannini, 1989) to northern Nicaragua
(Sunyer and Ko¨hler, 2007). From about central Guatemala through
Honduras and El Salvador to northern Nicaragua, Mesaspis
populations are restricted to several small highland peaks. The
range of the species is more extensive in the north where more
continuous highlands prevail. Given its wide distribution and
many isolated populations, the fact that M. moreletii is highly
variable in its scale patterns, exhibiting more variability than most
other genera in the Gerrhonotinae (Stuart, 1943a; Tihen, 1949), is
not surprising. Although characters of lepidosis have been used to
differentiate between the five currently recognized subspecies
(Mesaspis moreletii fulvus,Mesaspis moreletii moreletii,Mesaspis
moreletii rafaeli,Mesaspis moreletii salvadorensis, and Mesaspis
moreletii temporalis), the variability of external morphology and
problems of diagnosing these taxa have been noted by practically
every author who has considered them. For example, Tihen
(1949:222) voiced his frustration stating, ‘‘There is so much
individual variation in this form, and the localities from which
collections of series of individuals have been made are so
scattered that areas of intergradation cannot yet be definitely
established. The taxonomic arrangement is therefore far from
settled ...’ Tihen (1949) further noticed that the population of M.
moreletii from Sierra de los Cuchumatanes was not typical of M.
m. fulvus, the geographically most-proximate named taxon. He
suggested the Cuchumatan population may possibly represent a
three-way intergradation between subspecies (M. m. moreletii,M.
m. fulvus,andM. m. temporalis), but because individuals from this
population also possessed certain unique characteristics, the
situation as he portrayed it may be even more complex. Here
we describe a Cuchumatan population of Mesaspis that might be
easily confused with M. moreletii, especially the juveniles and
subadults of this species. In doing so, we hope to partially clarify
the taxonomic picture of Central American Mesaspis. Future
studies may reveal the propriety of elevating other isolated
Mesaspis populations.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Scale definitions and protocols for making scale counts follow
Bogert and Porter (1967) and Campbell and Frost (1993). The
number of longitudinal rows of dorsal scales can be particularly
confusing because of the reduced size of one or two rows just
3
Corresponding Author. E-mail: Campbell@uta.edu
DOI: 10.1670/15-024
above the ventrolateral fold; we standardized by counting only
rows containing nonreduced scales (Campbell and Frost, 1993:11,
footnote 3). Head measurements were made to the nearest 0.1
mm using Vernier calipers held under a dissecting microscope;
measurements of the body were made using a metric stick ruler
to the nearest 1.0 mm. When the condition of a given character
was not identical on the left and right sides, it is indicated as L/R.
Data for morphological comparisons were taken from specimens
examined and relevant literature (e.g., Tihen, 1949; Karges and
Wright, 1987; Good, 1988). Standard abbreviations used are SVL,
snout–vent length (front face of rostral to vent); HL, head length
(front face of rostral to the upper anterior edge of the auricular
opening); and HW, head width (at broadest point). Comparative
material was examined from UTA, MVZ, FLMNH, and MZFC
(Appendix 1). Museum abbreviations follow Sabaj Pe´rez (2014).
We consulted the published descriptions of morphological
features in Campbell and Frost (1993) and Good (1988). Format
and terminology in the diagnosis and description follow that of
Campbell and Frost (1993).
SYSTEMATIC ACCOUNT
Collections in recent decades have revealed the presence of
Mesaspis in the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes. Although this is the
most-extensive nonvolcanic mountain range in Central Amer-
ica, Mesaspis previously was unknown from the region except
for one small series reported by Stuart (1943a). This recently
secured material has allowed for careful comparisons and
analyses of the Cuchumatan sample with those of other
highland regions in Central America and Mexico. Somewhat
unexpectedly, we have found the Cuchumatan material is
representative of two species. We concluded the smaller of the
Cuchumatan species has been previously unrecognized and
suggest that it be known as:
Mesaspis cuchumatanus sp. nov.
Figures 1 A–B, 2–4, Table 1
Cuchumatanes Alligator Lizard (English), Escorpioncillo de los
Cuchumatanes (Spanish).
Holotype.—UTA R-46096 (original field no. MEA-1645A), an
adult male from Cerro Bobic, near San Mateo Ixtata´n, Sierra de
Los Cuchumatanes, Huehuetenango, Guatemala (15850034.5700
N,
91830042.3300
W), elevation 2,958 m, collected 20 August 1998 by
Manuel Acevedo.
Paratypes.—Thirty-eight specimens from the Sierra de los
Cuchumatanes, Huehuetenango, Guatemala. UTA R-27392–
27393, 17.1 km (by road) SW San Juan Ixcoy, 3,260 m; UTA R-
FIG. 1. Species of Mesaspis inhabiting the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, Guatemala. (A) Mesaspis cuchumatanus, adult male paratype, UTA R-46014,
12.9 km N Chiantla, ca. 2,900 m. (B) M. cuchumatanus, adult female paratypes, UTA R-46015, data same as for UTA R-46014. (C) M. moreletii, adult
male, UTA R-27398, 2.8 km by road WSW San Mateo Ixtata´ n.
328 I. SOLANO-ZAVALETA ET AL.
27394–27396, 11.1 km (by road) NW Santa Eulalia, 2,760 m; UTA
R-36584–36585, 36589, 5.4 km WSW San Mateo Ixtata´ n, 2,975 m;
UTA R-41607, 41610, 3.2 km WSW Patacal, 2,761 m; UTA R-
41616, 5.6 km E San Mateo Ixtata´n, 2,475 m; UTA R-41617–41619,
along road to Patacal, 5.0 km (by road) NW intersection of
Guatemala Road 9N (near San Mateo Ixtata´n), 2,835 m; UTA R-
41621–41622, 5.6 km NW jct of San Mateo Ixtata´n to Barillas road
and road to Nent ´
on, 2,780–2,800 m; UTA R-46014–46018, 12.9 km
N Chiantla, ca. 2,900 m; UTA R-46019–46021, 7.2 km SE Todos
Santos, 2,860 m; UTA R-46097–46105, topotypes; MVZ 143480,
143484, 21.8 km N Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango–Barillas Road;
MVZ 143469, 14347, stream below Captzin at km 311 on
Huehuetenango-Barillas Road; MVZ 143472, 4.5 km E (by road)
Todos Santos on Todos Santos-Paquix Road.
Referred Specimens.—UTA R-39801–39802, Montan˜as de Cuilco,
lado sur de Cumbre del Papal, 2,900–2,970 m.
Diagnosis.—A species of Mesaspis characterized by: 1) supra-
nasals usually expanded; 2) frontonasal scale present and usually
in broad contact with frontal; prefrontals reduced in size or fused
with frontonasal; 3) posterior internasals usually large, some-
times divided; 4) canthals usually absent; 5) parietal not
contacting median supraoculars; 6) occipital single; 7) anterior
superciliary contacting cantholoreal; 8) postmental single; 9)
dorsal scales in 50–58 transverse rows; 10) dorsal scales usually in
16 longitudinal scale rows, scales in lowermost rows half the
height of adjacent upper row or triangular shape; 11) ventral
scales in 12 longitudinal rows; 12) dorsal scales of neck without
keeling; and 13) scales covering lateral side of neck from about
level of upper edge of auricular opening to ventrolateral fold
small and granular.
Mesaspis cuchumatanus may be distinguished from all species
in the Mesaspis gadovii and Mesaspis antauges groups (sensu
Tihen, 1949; Good, 1988) in having one postmental; from all
species in the M. antauges group in having keeled dorsal scales;
from all species in the M. gadovii and M. antauges groups in
usually having two lateral supraoculars; from all species except
M. antauges in having posterior internasals usually divided;
from all congeners in having prefrontals usually fused with
frontonasal (Fig. 2), but occasionally prefrontals are present but
reduced or lacking on one side. It is most easily distinguished
from M. moreletii, with which it is sympatric, by its smaller adult
body size (<72 mm SVL vs. 72 mm SVL); prefrontal scales
most-frequently fused with the frontonasal, if prefrontals are
present they are much reduced in size; usually having 16
longitudinal dorsal scale rows (vs. 18–22), mostly smooth
nuchal scales (vs. keeled), large scales extending down on side
of the neck to about the level of the upper edge of the
tympanum (vs. level of lower edge of tympanum; see Fig. 3),
and a different color pattern. Mesaspis cuchumatanus is com-
pared with other species of the genus in Table 1.
Description of Holotype.—Adult male, SVL 56 mm, HL 12.7 mm,
HW 9.2 mm (width/length =0.72); tail complete, 82 mm in
length with 68 caudal whorls.
Supranasals elongated and in contact at midline; upper and
lower postnasals on each side (the former less than half size of
nasal); loreal and nasal scales in contact; two pairs of internasals
between rostral and cantholoreals–median supraoculars; poste-
rior internasals about same size as anterior internasals but about
twice as wide at widest point; canthals absent such that
posterior internasal contacts loreal, cantholoreal, and median
supraoculars; single loreal on each side; cantholoreal about as
long as high, precluded from contacting supralabial series by
contact between loreal and preocular; frontonasal fused with
TABLE 1. Selected features of Mesaspis species. Data are from Tihen (1949), Karges and Wright (1987), Good (1988), and specimens examined.
Character M. antauges M. cuchumatanus M. gadovii M. juarezi M. monticola M. moreletii M. viridiflava
Postmental scale Divided Undivided Divided Divided Undivided Undivided Undivided
Number of loreals 0 Usually 1, sometimes 2 1 1 1–2 1–3 0
Number of canthals 0–1 Usually 0, rarely 1 1 0 0–2 0–2 0
Number of cantholoreals 1 Often 1 1 1 1–2 0–1 1
Number of suboculars 2 Usually 2, rarely 1 or 3 1 2–3 2–4 1–4 Usually 2, rarely 1
Number of lateral
supraoculars Often 2,
sometimes 3 Usually 2, sometimes 3,
rarely 4 3 3 2–3 Often 2,
sometimes 3,
rarely 4
Often 2,
sometimes 3
Frontonasal Absent Present Present Absent Present Present Absent
Prefrontals Present Usually fused with
frontonasal, sometimes
present but reduced
Present Present Usually present,
often reduced Present Present
Dorsal scales Smooth Keeled Keeled Smooth Keeled Keeled Keeled
Longitudinal dorsal scale
rows 16 16, rarely 18 16–18 14, sometimes
16 14–16 18–22 14
HUEHUETENANGO MESASPIS 329
prefrontals, creating broad contact between this azygous scale
and frontal; 5/5 median supraoculars, 3/2 lateral supraoculars,
and 4/5 superciliaries; first superciliary broadly contacting
cantholoreal, narrowly contacting preocular; 1/1 preoculars,
2/2 suboculars, and 3/3 postoculars; frontal broadly contacting
interparietal; posterior end of interparietal contacting single
occipital; occipital flanked laterally by two parietals and two
postparietals; three transverse rows of scales separating
occipital from first transverse row of nuchals; 4/4 primary
temporals; first primary temporal longitudinally elongated,
contacting posterior subocular, lower two postoculars, and two
posterior supralabials; second primary temporal as large as first
primary temporal, but twice as high, in broad contact with
upper postocular, and slightly contacting middle postocular and
posteriormost median supraocular; third primary temporal
slightly elongated and in narrow contact with posteriormost
median supraocular; fourth primary temporal arrowhead in
shape and contacting two posterior median supraoculars,
frontoparietal, and parietal; 4/4 secondary temporals; 3/3
tertiary temporals; 9/10 supralabials, antepenultimate posteri-
ormost to reach posterior subocular; 8/8 infralabials; postmen-
tal not divided, followed by three pairs of enlarged chin shields
(scales following posterior pair about half size of chin shields);
4/4 scales in sublabial series, anteriormost reaching only third
infralabial and not contacting postmental (Fig. 2).
Minimum number of nuchals in transverse series eight; 52
transverse (from occipital to level of vent); 16 longitudinal rows
of dorsal scales, oriented in parallel rows relative to ventrolat-
eral fold; four middorsal longitudinal rows on body keeled with
adjacent rows slightly convex, lateral body scales mostly flat; 53
transverse (from posterior chin shield to vent) and 12
longitudinal rows of ventral scales.
Supra-auricular scales granular with about 11 small scales
between lateral nuchals and first large scales on ventrolateral
surface of neck; 13 antebranchials from insertion of arm to wrist;
ventrolateral fold with 2–3 subgranular scales and about 4–5
small granular scales separating adjacent dorsal and ventral
longitudinal scale rows; 11/11 subdigital lamellae on fourth
toes.
Coloration in Preservative.—(Ethanol after formalin) dorsum of
head, body, limbs, and tail predominantly greenish brown with
several dark spots or marks; dark irregular marks on head and
limbs; dark marks on body tend to group and form three dark
lines extending to anterior portion of tail; middorsal line is
evident; pale dorsolateral line extending from posterior edge of
eye to anterior part of tail, black line bordering below; grayish
pale line extending posteriorly from nares and below eyes,
around upper portion of auricular opening, and reaching
anterior limb insertion; portion of pale grayish line on supra-
labials surrounded by several dark marks; sides of head, body,
and tail predominantly brown with several dark spots or marks;
dark marks on side of body tend to be in series forming about 10
dark vertical or V-shaped (or both) bands, usually with small
white marks; chin and throat mostly grayish white with dark
spots on ventrolateral scales from just below ultimate supra-
FIG. 2. Mesaspis cuchumatanus sp. nov., (upper) dorsal, (middle)
lateral, and (lower) ventral aspects of head of holotype (UTA R-46096);
head length =12.7 mm.
FIG. 3. Lateral neck scales of two species of Mesaspis inhabiting the
Sierra de los Cuchumatanes in the department of Huehuetenango,
Guatemala; both adult males. (A) M. cuchumatanus sp. nov., UTA R-
46101, head length 12.8 mm, Cerro Bobic, near San Mateo Ixtata´ n, ca.
2,900 m (15.815008N, 91.478008W; (B) M. m. temporalis, UTA R-59146,
head length 18.7 mm, vicinity of Buena Vista Magdalena, 2,429 m
(15.554188N, .91.374248W). These species vary conspicuously from each
other in the size of scales on the side of the neck.
330 I. SOLANO-ZAVALETA ET AL.
labial to anterior limb insertion; venter of body grayish white
with several dark spots mostly situated laterally; venter of limbs
and tail grayish white with dark spots.
Variation.—Based on 23 of the best-preserved, intact specimens,
including holotype, representing different size classes and sexes;
seven adult males with SVL of 56–65 mm with cephalic indices
(HW/HL) of 0.70–0.76 (mean =0.73); seven adult females with
SVL of 56–72 mm with cephalic indices (HW/HL) of 0.68–0.75
(mean =0.71); two subadult males with SVL of 54 and 55 mm
and cephalic indices of 0.73 and 0.71 (mean =0.72), respectively;
three subadult females with SVL of 48–53 mm and cephalic
indices of 0.66–0.74 (mean =0.71); two juvenile males with SVL
of 40 and 45 mm and cephalic indices of 0.65 and 0.70,
respectively; two juvenile females with SVL of 42 and 43 mm
and cephalic indices of 0.71 and 0.63, respectively; tail complete
(unregenerated) in seven specimens, including holotype, 1.19–
1.70 (mean =1.46) times body length with 66–82 (mean =75.5)
caudal whorls.
Single supranasal on each side, unexpanded in 11 individuals,
expanded but not reaching midline in 4 individuals, expanded
reaching midline in 3 individuals, left scale expanded to midline
with right scale expanded but not reaching midline in 3
individuals, right scale expanded at midline and left scale
expanded but not reaching midline in 1 individual, right scale
expanded but not reaching midline and left unexpanded in 1
individual; postnasals 2/2 in 19 individuals, 2 individuals
lacking upper right postnasal, 1 individual lacking both upper
postnasals, and 1 individual lacking lower left postnasal; no
contact between loreal and nasal scales in 18 individuals,
present in 3 individuals, contact on only left side in 2
individuals; 2 pairs of internasals always present; internasals
between rostral and cantholoreals–median supraoculars in 9
individuals, between rostral and cantholoreals in 3 individuals,
between rostral and cantholoreals–prefrontals in 3 individuals,
between rostral and cantholoreal-median supraoculars–prefron-
tal in 1 individual, with 7 individuals varying on left and right
sides; anterior internasals undivided in 20 individuals, 2
individuals with anterior internasals divided, and 1 individual
with only left anterior internasal divided; posterior internasals
large (about twice size anterior internasals) and undivided in 8
individuals, 11 individuals with divided posterior internasals, 3
individuals with only left posterior internasal divided, and 1
individual with only right posterior internasal divided; no
canthals in 19 individuals, 2 individuals with 1/1 small canthal,
one individual with small canthal on left side, and one
individual with small canthal on right side; 1/1 loreal in 17
individuals, three individuals with 2/2 loreals, two individuals
with 1/2 loreals, one individual with 2/1 loreals; cantholoreal
about as long as high in 17 specimens, about twice higher than
long in 5 specimens, and twice higher than long on left side and
as high as long on right side in one specimen; cantholoreal
separated from supralabials by contact between loreal and
preocular in 12 specimens, separated by small loreal in 2
specimens, and reaching supralabials in 3 specimens; much
variation between scalation on sides of head in remaining 6
specimens: cantholoreal on right side reaching supralabials but
separated on left side by contact between loreal and preocular in
1 specimen, cantholoreal on left side reaching supralabials, but
separated on right side by contact between loreal and preocular
in 2 specimens, cantholoreal on left side separated by the
contact between loreal and preocular and separated on right
side by the presence of small loreal in 2 specimens, and vice
versa in 1 specimen; prefrontals lacking in 15 specimens, present
in 5 specimens, present on single side in 3 specimens (2 on left, 1
on right); width of contact of frontonasal with frontal is about
same width as anterior part of frontal in 15 specimens, about
half width of frontal in 3 specimens, extremely reduced and
scarcely contacting in 2 specimens, and lacking contact in 3
specimens; 5/5 median supraoculars in 22 specimens, 4/4 in
one specimen; 2/2 lateral supraoculars in 11 specimens, 2/3 in
four specimens, 3/2 in two specimens, 3/3 in four specimens,
3/4 in two specimens; superciliary series with great amount of
variation: one specimen with 2/2 superciliaries, one with 2/4,
one with 2/5, two with 3/3, three with 3/4, three with 4/4, four
with 4/5, two with 5/4, four have 5/5, and two with 6/6; first
superciliary broadly contacting cantholoreal in 22 specimens, in
one specimen first superciliary contacting a canthal and a loreal
on left side and contacting two loreals on right side; first
superciliary narrowly contacting preocular in 20 specimens, no
contact in 2 specimens, and 1 specimen with wider contact; 1/1
preoculars in 21 specimens, 2/1 in one specimen, and 2/2 in one
specimen; 22 specimens with 2/2 suboculars, one has 1/2, and
two have 3/3; 14 specimens with 3/3 postoculars, four with
3/2, two with 2/3, two with 2/2, and one with 4/3; contact
between frontal and interparietal about half the width of
anterior part of interparietal in 20 specimens, about the same
width of anterior part of interparietal in 1 specimen, and about
one-third width in 1 specimen; 3 transverse rows of scales
separating occipital from first transverse row of nuchals in 13
specimens, separated by 2 rows in 8 specimens, and 1 row in 2
specimens; 4/4 primary temporals in 14 specimens, 3 with 3/4,
one with 4/3, three with 5/4, and two with 5/5; lower primary
temporal longitudinally elongated in 21 specimens, about as
long as high in other 2 specimens; lower primary temporal
touching posterior subocular in 19 specimens; lower primary
temporal in contact with lower postocular in most specimens
(only one specimen with contact absent on right side); lower
primary temporal contacting upper and middle postoculars in
16 specimens; second primary temporal as large as the first
primary temporal but twice as high in 9 specimens, about same
size in 13 specimens, and as large as first primary temporal, but
is twice as high on right side but equal in size on left side;
second primary temporal in broad contact with upper post-
ocular in 20 specimens (one has slight contact on left side and
broad contact on right side, and two specimens lack contact);
second primary temporal in narrow contact with middle
postocular in 17 specimens, 2 with broad contact, 2 lack contact,
1 with broad contact on left side and narrow contact on right
side, and 1 with narrow contact on left side and lacking contact
on right side; second primary temporal in narrow contact with
median supraocular in 20 specimens, two specimens lack
contact and one specimen with contact only on right side; third
primary temporal slightly elongated in 17 specimens, three with
elongated scale only on right side, one specimen with elongated
scale only on left side, and two specimens with no elongated
scales; third primary temporal in narrow contact with posterior
median supraocular in 16 specimens (in three specimens narrow
contact with posterior median supraocular and upper post-
ocular on both sides); one specimen has narrow contact with
posterior median supraocular and broad contact with upper
postocular on left side, and narrow contact with posterior
median supraocular on right side; in two specimens with broad
contact with posterior median supraocular and narrow contact
with penultimate median supraocular on left side, and narrow
contact with posterior median supraocular on right side; one
specimen with broad contact with posterior median supraocular
HUEHUETENANGO MESASPIS 331
and narrow contact with penultimate median supraocular on
right side, and narrow contact with posterior median supra-
ocular on left side; fourth primary temporal arrowhead-shaped
in 14 specimens, variously triangular or rhomboidal in shape in
other individuals; second primary temporal contacting two
posterior median supraoculars in 16 specimens, contacting
parietal in 16 specimens (in 3 specimens contact only on right
side and in 2 specimens contact only on left, 2 specimens lack
contact); 4/4 secondary temporals in 20 specimens (3/4 in two
specimens and 3/3 in one specimen); 3/3 tertiary temporals in
14 specimens (2/3 in two specimens, 4/3 in four specimens, and
4/4 in three specimens); 10/10 supralabials in eight specimens
(9/9 in four, 9/10 in two, 10/9 in two, 10/11 in two, 11/10 in
three, 9/11 in one, and 11/11 in one); antepenultimate supra-
labial posteriormost to reach posterior subocular in 22 speci-
mens; 7/7 infralabials in 8 specimens (6/6 in one, 6/7 in two,
7/6 in one, 7/8 in three, 8/7 in two, 8/8 in five, and 6/8 in one);
postmental not divided in 21 specimens (2 postmentals in one
specimen and additional small scale in another); 3/3 enlarged
chin shields (3/4 and 4/3 in two specimens, respectively), scales
following posterior pair less than half to one-third size of the
chin shields; 4/4 scales in sublabial series in 9 specimens (3/3 in
two, 3/4 in three, 4/3 in four, 4/5 in two, 5/5 in one, and 5/6 in
two); anterior sublabial reaching second infralabial in 13
specimens (reaching 1/2 in one, 2/3 in three, 3/2 in one, 3/3
in four, and 4/4 in one).
Fifty transverse dorsal scale rows (occipital to level of vent) in
6 specimens, 51 in three, 52 in three, 53 in two, 54 in two, 55 in
two, 56 in four, 58 in one; 16 longitudinal dorsal scale rows of
approximately same size in 9 individuals, 12 individuals with
scales in lower lateral rows on one or both sides about half size
of other dorsals, only one specimen with 18 dorsal scale rows of
about same size and shape; four middorsal longitudinal rows of
scales keeled on dorsum (6 in two specimens) and one
additional row on each side which is slightly convex in 20
specimens (2 on each side in three specimens); 55 transverse
(from posterior chin shield to vent) ventral scale rows in nine
specimens (50 in one, 51 in two, 52 in two, 53 in five, 54 in two,
56 in one, and 58 in one); 12 longitudinal rows of ventral scales
in all specimens; supra-auricular scales always granular, about
10 small scales between lateral nuchals and first large scale on
ventrolateral surface of neck in 6 specimens (8 in five, 9 in six, 11
in four, and 12 in two); 11 antebranchials (counted from the
insertion of the arm to wrist) in 12 specimens (10 in six, 12 in
four, and 13 in one); ventrolateral fold with 1 subgranular scale
separating large dorsal and ventral longitudinal rows of scales
in 8 individuals, 1–2 in six, 2 in four, and 2–3 in five; and about
3–4 small granular scales separating these rows of scales in 11
specimens, 2–3 in four, 4 in four, and 4–5 in four; 12/12
subdigital lamellae on the fourth toes in three specimens, 10/10
in one, 10/11 in two, 11/10 in one, 11/11 in one, 11/12 in three,
11/13 in one, 12/11 in two, 12/13 in two, 13/12 in two, 13/13 in
one, 13/14 in three, and 14/13 in one.
In preservative (ethanol after formalin), all specimens with
dorsum of head, body, limbs, and tail predominantly brown to
greenish brown; six males (UTA R-27394, 27396, 39801, 46014,
46096, 46097) with conspicuous irregular dark spots or
markings on head and limbs, other specimens with scattered
and often smaller spots; three females lacking dorsal black
markings or spots on body, no middorsal dark line often
present; dark spots or marks along middorsum in seven
specimens forming middorsal line, dark spots or markings
arranged to form middorsal and dorsolateral lines (dorsolateral
lines usually not as evident as vertebral lines) in 13 specimens;
conspicuous dorsolateral pale line extending from posterior
edge of eye to anterior part of tail in 21 individuals (in two
individuals no evident pale line), line inconspicuous posterior to
forelimbs in few individuals; dark line (black to dark brown)
extending below pale line invariably present; all specimens with
grayish pale line extending below eyes (in some specimens
extending as far anteriorly as nares), then extending above
auricular openings and reaching forelimb insertion; sides of
head, body, and tail predominantly brown; dark spots or
markings highly variable, especially on head and body; some
specimens with few black spots on head and sides of body,
others with dark spots and dark vertical or V-shaped (or both)
bands covering most of head; in all specimens, some of the dark
marks on sides of body have white spots situated at union
between two dark scales; ventral surfaces mostly grayish white
with small dark spots predominantly arranged laterally, with
number and concentration of black spots highly variable among
specimens.
Color in Life.—The species is sexually dimorphic; adult males
usually have more black spots or markings on their bodies and
broader heads. In adult males (Fig. 1A), dorsum and flanks
whitish to yellowish tan, heavily marked with black spots on
every quadrangular body scale, somewhat irregular on lower
flanks but occupying approximately center of each scale on
upper flank and dorsum, forming black dorsolateral line
extending from behind eye to tail; black markings often forming
horizontal black lines on side of neck; supralabials mostly cream
with irregular black spots, larger posteriorly. In adult females
(Fig. 1B), ground color medium brown with scattered black
spots, but not on every scale; a narrow black dorsolateral line
from behind eye to base of tail, but not as well defined as in
males; supralabials mostly brown, sometimes with small black
spots; ground color of flanks may be darker than that of
dorsum. In both males and females the black dorsolateral line
may be bordered above by a pale line and a middorsal black
line may extend from the back of the head to the tail. Juveniles
with coppery brown dorsum, dark brown flanks with yellow
spots or bars (or both), especially anteriorly; and a few irregular
yellow bars on the side of the head.
Etymology.—The species name is taken from the Sierra de los
Cuchumatanes, the most extensive mountain range in Central
America.
Distribution and Habitat.—Mesaspis cuchumatanus is widespread
at the higher elevations of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes,
Guatemala, ranging in the south from just north of Chiantla
northward to the vicinity of San Mateo Ixtata´n (Fig. 4). Several
specimens probably attributable to this species have been
collected in the isolated highlands of the Montan˜ as del Cuilco,
which lie to the southwest of the main portion of the
Cuchumatanes. It has not been encountered in the Departamento
de Quiche´ in the eastern portion of the Cuchumatanes, but may
occur there. It is sympatric with M. m. temporalis in the Sierra de
los Cuchumatanes and Montan˜as del Cuilco.
The main vegetation types reported for the Cuchumatanes are
lower montane wet forest, subtropical wet forest, lower
montane dry forest, lower montane moist forest, lower montane
wet forest, and montane wet forest (Holdridge, 1959). Mesaspis
cuchumatanus has been taken mostly in the latter three kinds of
forest, which occur at high elevations. A predominance of Abies
guatemalensis forest occurs between 2,900–3,400 m, while at
3,000–3,800 m there prevails a mixed forest of Juniperus standleyi
and Pinus hartwegii (Islebe et al., 1994, 1995; Steinberg and
332 I. SOLANO-ZAVALETA ET AL.
Taylor, 2008). The known elevational distribution for M.
cuchumatanus is 2,760 m (UTA R-27394–27396) to 3,260 m
(UTA R-27392–27393), so it is highly probable that the species is
present in a variety of recognized forest types. This species
appears to be exclusively terrestrial, as are other members of the
genus, and can be found under surface debris or active on the
surface. The species has been taken along the edges or forest
clearings or in areas that have been recently felled.
One of the collecting sites for M. cuchumatanus was close to
the type locality of Abronia frosti, from where Bolitoglossa rostrata,
Pseudoeurycea rex,Incilius bocourti,Norops crassulus,Sceloporus
taeniocnemis,Thamnophis fulvus, and Cerrophidion godmani have
been reported (Campbell et al., 1998).
DISCUSSION
The massive mountain system of the Sierra de los Cuchuma-
tanes extends as a broad arc for some 150 km and reaches
elevations of over 3,600 m. In the north the Sierra de los
Cuchumatanes trends north–south from near the Mexican
border to just north of the city of Huehuetenango, where the
highlands curve eastward, extending to a region north of
Uspanta´ n in the department of Quiche´. The upper reaches of the
Cuchumatanes above 2,000 m are isolated from other regions in
Guatemala of comparable heights. This range is isolated by
lowlands on several sides: to the northwest the basin created by
the many tributaries of the Rı´o Grijalva, including the deep
entrenchment of the Rio Selegua which separates the Cuchu-
matanes from the Montan˜as del Cuilco; to the east and north the
low elevations of the Yucata´n Platform; and to the southeast by
the deep entrenchment of the Rı´o Chixoy and associated
tributaries. The Rı´o Chixoy Valley eventually courses northward
into the Pete´ n lowlands forming a formidable barrier between
highland faunas of the Cuchumatanes and the Verapaces. The
single highland corridor into the Cuchumatanes occurs with the
Guatemalan Plateau where the highlands separating the Rı´o
Grijalva and Rı´o Chixoy drainages reach 1,500–2,000 m. The
major tributaries of these two drainages form part of Stuart’s
(1954a) subhumid corridor. The forest of the highland bridge
connecting the Guatemalan Plateau with the Cuchumatanes is
covered with sparse pine-oak forest that is very open, lacks
continuity, and is devoid of underbrush (Stuart, 1954a; JAC,
pers. obs.). This region is relatively xeric and undoubtedly
serves as a barrier to mesic-adapted faunas occurring on either
side. Based on intensive collecting in this region, Mesaspis
appears to be absent. Another somewhat tenuous highland
connection occurs at the northern periphery of the Cuchuma-
tanes where a narrow ridge scarcely reaching 1,500 m connects
the northwestern Cuchumatanes with the Meseta Central of
Chiapas. This ridge appears to have provided the corridor by
which limited exchange of mid-elevation faunas has occurred.
Although Mesaspis has been known from Guatemala since
Bocourt (1872), apparently the first report of the genus from the
Cuchumatanes was Stuart (1943a), who reported on seven
specimens of M. moreletii from several localities in the
departments of Huehuetenango and Quiche´ that he assigned
to the subspecies M. m. fulvus. Stuart (1951) reported two taxa of
Mesaspis from the Guatemalan Plateau that he considered
sufficiently morphologically distinct and geographically isolat-
ed to be regarded as separate subspecies. He noted, however,
that allocation of individuals to particular taxa often was
difficult owing to variation and the frequent presence of atypical
individuals within samples. He allocated specimens from the
eastern portion of the Guatemalan Plateau to M. m. fulvus and
those from the western portion of the Plateau and southern
range of mountains to M. m. rafaeli.
Among the salient characters most frequently separating M.
m. rafaeli from M. m. fulvus are the presence of separated
postnasals, presence of posterior prefrontals, and the contact of
the posterior loreal with the supralabials; however, Mesaspis in
general is notorious for the amount of intraspecific variation in
head scales within single populations (Tihen, 1949; Karges and
Wright, 1987). This is nowhere more evident than in the species
described here. Stuart (1963) distinguished M. m. fulvus from M.
m. rafaeli by having an upper postnasal in contact with the lower
postnasal and from M. m. moreletii by having a belly pattern of
scattered, squarish, dark spots and a third infralabial frequently
not in contact or just barely in contact with the chin shields.
Slevin (1942) reported a large series of Mesaspis from ‘‘Chichi-
vac’’ [Chichavac] and Santa Elena in the department of
Chimaltenango on the Tecpa´n Ridge of the Guatemalan Plateau
at elevations of 2,640–3,050 m (Slevin, 1939). The frontonasal
and frontal were in contact in 84 of these, partially separated in
three, and with complete separation in 1 individual; 71
specimens had 18 dorsal longitudinal scale rows and 14 had 20.
The highlands in southeastern Guatemala are not as extensive
as those to the west and Mesaspis is restricted to a few of the
higher peaks. Stuart (1954b) reported M. m. fulvus from the
Soledad Grande highlands, although the presence of this taxon
in the region was missed by subsequent authors (e.g., Good,
1988). In his monograph of the Guatemalan herpetofauna,
Stuart (1963) delimited the ranges of Mesaspis as M. m. moreletii
in the mountains of the Verapaces, M. m. rafaeli in the mountains
of the Sierra Madre of Chiapas into extreme southwestern
Guatemala, and M. m. fulvus in high elevations of the Plateau of
Guatemala. Interestingly, Stuart (1963) makes no mention of the
highest, most-continuous massif in Guatemala—the Cuchuma-
tanes—as being within the range of Mesaspis, a region from
which he previously reported the species (Stuart, 1943a). Stuart
(1948) considered M. m. moreletii to be restricted to the
mountains of Alta Verapaz; however, this taxon was subse-
quently found in the mountains to the south, including the
Sierra de las Minas (Campbell, 2000). In general, most
populations of Mesaspis in Guatemala occur to well over 2,000
m, and several authors have noted that in mesic regions of cloud
forest these lizards may descend to about 1,500 m or even a little
FIG. 4. Distribution of Mesaspis in Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico.
HUEHUETENANGO MESASPIS 333
lower (Stuart, 1951; Campbell and Vannini, 1989; Sunyer and
Ko¨ hler, 2007). This is true in the region of Granja Lorena on the
Pacific Versant of Guatemala and in the northeastern cloud
forests of Baja Verapaz (Campbell, 2000). The southernmost
records for Mesaspis in Nicaragua are the lowest at just above
1,300 m (Sunyer and Ko¨ hler, 2007). It has been our experience in
the highlands of Guatemala that populations of Mesaspis are
restricted to and isolated at rather high elevations and that
populations tend to be highly fragmented and noncontinuous.
Stuart (1943a) noted the herpetofaunal assemblage of the
Cuchumatanes to be quite different from adjacent regions and
suggested that it comprised a unique faunal area worthy of
recognition from any of the adjacent regions. Based on
salamander distributions, Stuart (1943b, 1950) recognized the
Sierra de los Cuchumatanes as one of the nine major ‘‘biotic
areas’’ in Guatemala. Campbell and Vannini (1989) reassessed
the faunal area of Guatemala based on the entire herpetofauna.
They realized the close relationships between three mountain-
ous regions in Guatemala (the Cuchumatanes, the Montan˜ as del
Cuilco, and the Guatemalan Plateau) but divided these
highland areas into separate regions. With specific reference to
the allopatric populations of Mesaspis in the Cuchumatanes and
Alta Verapaz, Stuart (1950:27) showed considerable insight by
observing it is ‘‘probable that differentiation from a widespread
prototypic stock took place independently in the two areas.’’
Previously, only a single, widespread species, M. moreletii,
was recognized across the Nuclear Central American highlands.
The type localities of all described taxa of M. moreletii have come
from regions to the south of the Cuchumatanes: M. m. moreletii
from the department of Alta Verapaz at 1,440 m, M. m. fulvus
from the department of Totonicapan on the southern slopes of
the Sierra de Chuac ´us at 2,460 m, and M. m. rafaeli at 2,300 m,
near Siltepec in Chiapas in the Sierra Madre of Chiapas. The
discovery of M. cuchumatanus with M. m. temporalis in the Sierra
de los Cuchumatanes was somewhat unexpected. Mesaspis
cuchumatanus is broadly sympatric with M. m. temporalis at
several localities around San Mateo Ixtata´ n.
Isolation or reproductive barriers between the two species of
Mesaspis in the area remain to be ascertained. It is probable that
a sexual barrier exists in size because M. cuchumatanus is
substantially smaller and less corpulent than is M. m. temporalis.
The color pattern of adult male M. cuchumatanus and M. m.
temporalis is considerably different. Adult male M. cuchumatanus
tend to have a greenish-brown coloration and darker side
patterns whereas adult male M. m. temporalis tend to have a
predominantly pale-brown coloration and are usually marked
with black and white bands on their flanks.
We have made no effort to ascertain exactly what material or
information previous authors may have had when dealing with
Mesaspis from the Cuchumatanes. Indeed, this would not be
feasible in most instances. The extreme variation noted in
Cuchumatan material by these authors may result from the
commingling of M. cuchumatanus and M. m. temporalis.
Therefore, certain names by Tihen (1949), Stuart (1943a), and
Good (1988) should possibly be considered synonyms, at least
in part, with M. cuchumatanus.
Acknowledgments.—We thank L. Canseco-Ma´rquez for his
valuable help on scale counts. We are grateful to the staff of
FLMNH (K. L. Krysko and M. A. Nickerson), MZFC (E. Pe´rez-
Ramos), MVZ (C. L. Spencer and J. A. McGuire), UTA (C. J.
Franklin), M. E. Acevedo, S. M. Rovito, and T. J. Devitt for
making various materials available to us. IS-Z thanks E. N.
Smith, J. Reyes-Velasco, D. Sa´ nchez, and U. Smart for their help,
including lodging while at UT Arlington, and discussions about
Middle American anguids; and he is also grateful to UNAM and
to the program Doctorado en Ciencias Biol ´
ogicas, the Consejo
Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologı´a (CONACYT), and to the
Direcci ´
on General de Estudios de Posgrado de la Universidad
Nacional Aut ´
onoma de Me´xico for his financial support. The
illustration in Figure 2 was executed by H. Archundia Nieto.
This work was supported by the Programa de Apoyo a
Proyectos de Investigaci ´
on e Innovaci ´
on Tecnol ´
ogica (PAPIIT
No. IIN-224009) and by grants from the Consejo Nacional de
Ciencia y Tecnologı´a (CONACYT No. 47590-Q and CONACYT
No. 154053) to AN-M de Oca, and by National Science
Foundation grants (DEB-9705277, DEB-102383) and a Texas
Advanced Research Program grant (003656-001) to JAC.
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Accepted: 15 July 2015.
APPENDIX 1
Specimens Examined
Mesaspis antauges: MEXICO: VERACRUZ: Municipio Alpatla-
huac (MZFC 29310-29312).
Mesaspis cuchumatanus. See species account.
Mesaspis gadovii: MEXICO: GUERRERO: Municipio General
Heliodoro Castillo: Carretera Puerto del Gallo – El Jilguero (MZFC
16451); Municipio Leonardo Bravo: 3.8 km by road E Carrizal
(Corral) de Bravo (MZFC 15252, 15254, 15255); Municipio San
Miguel Totolapan: Carretera Nueva Dehli – La Guitarra (MZFC
16452, 16453); Municipio Zira´ ndaro: 50 m del Crucero del Carrizal
(MZFC 689, 690); El Puerto (MZFC 587–589, 656–658); 1.6 km S
Omiltemi, 2,750 m (UTA R-4127–4150); 0.8–1.6 km S Omiltemi,
2,195–2,286 m (UTA R-4410–4414); 1.6 km E Omiltemi, 2,591 m;
(UTA R-4865–4671); Omiltemi, 2,134 m (UTA R-4872–4880).
OAXACA: El Tejocote, 2,286 m (UTA R-5793–5798); El Tejocote,
2,134 m (UTA R-25773–25779).
Mesaspis juarezi:M
´
EXICO: OAXACA: Municipio Concepci ´
on
Pa´ palo: Pen˜a Verde, NE de Cuicatla´ n (MZFC 8695–8697); Municipio
Santa Marı´a Pa´ palo: Pen˜ a Verde, NE de Cuicatla´ n (MZFC 8693,
8694); Municipio Santiago Comaltepec: Brecha 60 (MZFC 4508,
4509), N Cerro Pel ´
on, 10.6 km N Cerro Machı´n (turnoff for
Comaltepec) on Hwy 175 (MZFC 15903); 8.5–10.8 km N (by road)
crest Cerro Pel ´
on, 2,073–2,451 m (UTA R-25780); 9.8 km N crest
Cerro Pel ´
on, 2,438 m (UTA R-4863–4864); 10.8–15.6 km N (by road)
Cerro Pel ´
on, 2,027–2,057 m (UTA R-25781–25782); 51 km S Valle
Nacional Bridge on Mex Hwy 175 (UTA R-58925–58926).
Mesaspis monticola: COSTA RICA: CARTAGO: Cerro de la
Muerte, 11.1 km by road NW Villa Mills, near km post 84 on Ruta
Nacional 2, 3,250 m (UTA R-27000–27023); Cerro de la Muerte, 20.3
km by road NW Villa Mills, near km post 75 on Ruta Nacional 2,
3,005 m (UTA R-27024–27027); Cerro de la Muerte, 21.0 km by road
NW Villa Mills, near km post 74 on Ruta Nacional 2, 3,000 m (UTA
R-27028–27034).
Mesaspis moreletii: GUATEMALA: ALTA VERAPAZ: Ca´ quipec
(UTA R-19693, 19696, 19698, 19700); Montan˜a Yalijux, Chelemha´
(UTA R-27453); near Ca´quipec Mines, 20 km E and 6 km S Coba´n
(MVZ 143464–143467); San Pedro Carcha, Aldea Chirrucbiquim
(UTA R-33660); Sierra de Xucaneb, Chelemha´ (UTA R-40104–
40106). BAJA VERAPAZ: 4 km ENE Chilasc ´
o(MVZ 144538); Cerro
Quisı´s (UTA R-6564); Cerro Quisı´s, near La Uni ´
on Barrios (UTA R-
19732–19734, 19739–19740); Rta. Nacional 5, 2.6–4.8 km S (by road)
Purulha´ (MVZ 109365); Finca Quisı´s, Purulha´ (MVZ 146503); Finca
San Jorge, 5 km ENE Chilasc ´
o(MVZ 160610–16014); near La Uni ´
on
Barrios (UTA R-28920–28922); Nin˜ o P erdido ( UTA R- 28932);
Plantaci ´
on Santa Teresa, 7.7 km SSE Purulha´ (UTA R-6272–6273,
6421, 6423, 6425–6426, 6430, 6500); Refugio Universitario para
Quetzal Vuelta del Quetzal (UTA R-7811); Sierra de las Minas,
vicinity of Chilasc ´
o(UTA R-38852–38857); Sierra de las Minas,
Chilasc ´
o, Finca San Jorge (UTA R-38851, 38861–38862); vicinity of
La Uni ´
on Barrios (UTA R-7844–7845, 30818, 46756–46758); Vuelta
del Quetzal, 3.8 km SE de Purulha´ (UTA R-19731, 19735–19738);
Vuelta del Quetzal, Biotopo Mario Dary (UTA R-22122). HUEHUE-
TENANGO: Sierra de los Chuchumatanes, 2.8 km by road WSW
San Mateo Ixtata´ n (UTA R-27398–27399); Montan˜ as del Cuilco, La
Democracia, Cumbre entre Ojo de Agua y Hoja Blanca, 1,900–2,200
m (UTA R-41592–41605); 3.2 km WSW Patacal, 2,761 m (UTA R-
41608–41609, 41611–41612); 5.6 km E San Mateo Ixtata´n, 2,475 m
(UTA R-41613-41615); Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, 14.0 km NW jct
of San Mateo Ixtata´ n to Barillas road and road to Nent ´
on, 2,780 m
(UTA R-41620); vicinity of San Mateo Ixtata´n (UTA R-46110); 1.4 km
E Yalambojoch at Rı´o Salchila´ (UTA R-52244); vicinity of Buena
Vista Magdalena, 2,429 m (UTA R-59146–59148); JALAPA: 4.7 km
SW Miramundo (UTA R-28918); between Soledad Grande and
Miramundo (UTA R-33176–33177, 33179); Cerro Miramundo, ca.
2,600 m (UTA R-46111); La Soledad, on road to Guatel Tower (UTA
R-33158, 33160–33170); Miramundo highlands, near Torre de Guatel
(UTA R-46880, 52242); Miramundo, Guatel Tower (UTA R-33190,
33193–33195, 33649–33653, 33655–33658); Soledad Grande, along
road to Guatel Tower (UTA R-33183). PROGRESO: San Agustı´n
Acasaguastla´ n, Sierra de las Minas, S of Cerro Pinal ´
on (UTA R-
28934). QUETZALTENANGO: 15.1 km NE Colomba (UTA R-
40114–40115, 40578); 3.8 km S (by road) Las Nubes, on road from
San Martı´n to Colomba (MVZ-104163); Finca Lorena on road from
San Martı´n to Colomba (MVZ 104164); Meseta Norte, Volca´n Santa
Marı´a (UTA R-52240); N Volca´ n Zunil (UTA-R 42014–42017).
QUICH ´
E: 20.5 km N Uspanta´ n y 4.5 km N Aldea Caracol (UTA
R-52241); 19.3 km N Uspanta´ n, N of Aldea El Caracol (UTA R-
41994); 3.0 km SSE Chichicastenango, valley between Paxot and
Camanibal (UTA R-19691–19692, 19741, 27446–27450, 28930, 28930–
HUEHUETENANGO MESASPIS 335
28931); 7.8 km NE (by road) from junction of Carretera Nacional #2
and road to Santa Rosa, on road to Santa Rosa, 2,390 m (UTA R-
33184–33185); 9.0 km NE (by road) Nebaj, on road to San Juan
Cotzal, 2,010 m (UTA R-33186); ca 4.8 km NE (by road) Nebaj, on
road to San Juan Cotzal, 1,760 m (UTA R-33187–33188); Chichicas-
tenango (UTA R-33199); Cordillera de Los Cuchumatanes, 3.5 km
NW (by air) Uspanta´ n (MVZ-160728–160731); Ruta Depto. 3, 10.7
km S (by road) Nebaj (MVZ 109384); Uspanta´ n, Camino El Chimel,
1,600–2400 m (UTA R-41988–41989, 41991–41993); 19.3 km N
Uspanta´ n, N of Aldeas El Caracol, 2,140 m (UTA R-41994);
Uspanta´ n, El Chimel, Colonia Patoja (UTA R-41998); Uspanta´ n,
Cumbre El Chimel–San Pablo El Baldio (Lado Este), 2,350 m (UTA
R-41990); Santa Cruz del Quiche´ (UTA R-46108); 20.5 km N
Uspanta´ n (UTA R-52241). SAN MARCOS: between km 259–261
on road between San Marcos and San Rafael Pie de la Cuesta, ca.
10–12 km SW of San Marcos, 2,200–2,400 m (UTA R-28916); Aldea
La Fraternidad, Finca La Esperanza, 1,825–1,860 m (UTA R-3885–
3860, 40010–40015); Municipio Esquipulas Palo Gordo, Aldea La
Fraternidad, Finca La Esperanza, 1,880 m (UTA R-40016–40017);
vicinity of Aldea Feria y La Trinidad a Aldea La Fraternidad, Finca
La Esperanza, 1,200–1,900 m (UTA R-40018–40021); Esquipulas Palo
Gordo, Aldea La Fraternidad, Finca La Esperanza (UTA R-40403,
40404, 41581–41589, 41591); Fields above Rta. Nacional 1, 14.1 km
W (by road) San Marcos (MVZ 109411); Finca Insula, El Rinc ´
on
Transect 3, W side of slope, ca. 2–2.5 km W by air) El Rinc ´
on (MVZ
104169–10470); NE-trending ridge, 1.0–2.0 km W, 0.0–1.0 km N (by
air) El Rinc ´
on (MVZ 117107, 117097); ridge 2 km W (by air) El
Rinc ´
on (MVZ-109460); Ridge W of El Rinc ´
on (MVZ 140639, 140641);
roadside area along Rta. Nacional 1, 9.5 km W San Marcos (MVZ
117098); Rta. Nacional 1, 14 km W (by road) San Marcos (MVZ-
113671); W-facing ridge, ca. 1.0–2.0 km S of summit, between Palo
Gordo and La Fraternidad, of Rta. Nacional 1 (MVZ 117099–11104).
TOTONICAPAN: 9.5 km W Rı´o Nahuala´ bridge, 26.0 km WSW Los
Encuentros–Atitla´ n turnoff (UTA R-23733–23738); 34.4 km S Rı´o
Pucal on Guatemala Hwy CA–1, 2,620 m (UTA R-27445); just W of
summit of Zunil Ridge, along Pan American Hwy (MVZ 228782);
Marı´a Tec ´um Block, Rta. Nacional 1.5 km N, 6 km E (by air)
Nahuala´ (MVZ 109454); W summit of Zunil Ridge, along Pan
American Hwy (MVZ 150168). HONDURAS: CORT ´
ES: Parque
Nacional El Cusuco (FLMNH 144734, 144735); Parque Nacional El
Cusuco, Bosque Enano (FLMNH 144727); Parque Nacional El
Cusuco, Cerro Cusuco landslide (FLMNH 147635); Parque Nacional
El Cusuco, Cerro Jilinco (FLMNH 147632, 147633); Parque Nacional
El Cusuco, Quebrada de Cantiles (FLMNH 147634, 147636).
FRANCISCO MORAZ ´
AN: La Tigra (UTA R-53230); Parque
Nacional La Tigra (UTA R-53231–53233); San Juancito (FLMNH
124827). OCOTEPEQUE: 20.1 km E de Nueva Ocotepeque (FLMNH
124828–12429); Carretera Nueva Ocotopeque – La Labor (UTA R-
46866, 52245); Reserva Biol ´
ogica Gu¨ isayote, 3.5 km S (by air) of CA-
4 at El Portillo de Ocotepeque (MVZ-263868). MEXICO: CHIAPAS:
Cerro Mozotal, 16.7 mi (via road to Siltepec) from pass on
continental divide above Huixtla (MVZ 191590–19193, 193586–
19387); Municipio Uni ´
on Jua´ rez: foot road above Colonia Talquian,
Volca´ n Tacana´ (MVZ 159516–15917); above Colonia Talquian,
Volca´ n Tacana´ (MVZ-159495–159505); 10.9 km ESE San Crist ´
obal
on Mex Hwy 190 (UTA R-8881–8883); 10.5 km E Ray ´
on Mezcala (El
Mirador), 1,878 m (UTA R-12192–12193); Grutas de San Crist ´
obal
(UTA R-19685–19690). NICARAGUA: JINOTEGA: Santa Marı´a de
Ostuma (MVZ 203676); Reserva Natural Cerro Kilambe´ (FLMNH
156197–15699). EL SALVADOR: CHALATENANGO: E slope Los
Esesmiles (MVZ 40273–40280, 40288–40289, 40291–40294, 40296–
40298); Los Esesmiles (MVZ 40281–40285, 40300–40302).
Mesaspis viridiflava: MEXICO, OAXACA: Municipio Ixtla´ n de
Jua´ rez: Llano de las Flores, 16.5 mi N de Guelatao, Sierra de Jua´rez
(MZFC 7474); Municipio Santiago Comaltepec: Upslope from
Comaltepec, Sierra de Jua´ rez (MZFC 11091); 1 km N Cerro Pel ´
on
on Hwy 175 (MZFC 15904); Municipio Santa Marı´a Tlahuitoltepec:
Carretera Coconales – Zacatepec (MZFC 16084); Municipio Teoti-
tla´ n del Valle: on road from Teotitla´ n del Valle, just downslope from
Benito Jua´ re z (MZFC 11144); Munic ipio Totontep ec Villa de
Morelos, along road above Totontepec (MZFC 16081); ca. 11 miles
W Totontepec (MZFC 16074–16078); Sierra Mixe, ca. 13 miles W
Toto n t e p e c ( M Z F C 1 6 1 6 9 16 171); Sierra Mixe, 5 . 6 m i l e s W
Totontepec (MZFC 16186–16188); Sierra Mixe, 11.4 km W Totonte-
pec (MZFC 16189, 16190); 5 km S Totontepec (MZFC 11586–11589);
23.7 km NE Dı´az Ordaz, 3,000 m (MZFC 16087); ca. 17.7 km W
Totontepec, 2,641 m (UTA R-51934–51940); Carretera Coconales to
Zanatepec, 2,490 m (UTA R-51941–51942); Sierra Mixe, ca. 21 km W
Totontepec, 2,550 m (UTA R-51943–51944); Cerro San Felipe, 2,900
m (UTA R-51945); Sierra Mixe, 9 km W Totontepec, 2,386 m (UTA R-
51946); Sierra Mixe, 13.8 km W Totontepec, 2,606 m (UTA R-51947–
51949).
336 I. SOLANO-ZAVALETA ET AL.
... The genus Mesaspis Cope, 1878 contains seven recognized species, most of which have small geographic distributions (Good, 1988;Solano-Zavaleta et al., 2016). Of these, M. antauges, M. gadovii, M. juarezi, and M. viridiflava occur in the highlands of Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Veracruz, Mexico, west of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (Good, 1988); M. cuchumatanus occurs in the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes in west-central Guatemala (Solano-Zavaleta et al., 2016), and M. monticola is distributed on the highlands of Costa Rica and extreme western Panamá (Savage, 2002). ...
... The genus Mesaspis Cope, 1878 contains seven recognized species, most of which have small geographic distributions (Good, 1988;Solano-Zavaleta et al., 2016). Of these, M. antauges, M. gadovii, M. juarezi, and M. viridiflava occur in the highlands of Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Veracruz, Mexico, west of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (Good, 1988); M. cuchumatanus occurs in the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes in west-central Guatemala (Solano-Zavaleta et al., 2016), and M. monticola is distributed on the highlands of Costa Rica and extreme western Panamá (Savage, 2002). Mesaspis moreletii, the most widely distributed of the species of Mesaspis, occurs in disjunct populations at moderately high elevations in the temperate highlands of Nuclear Central America from both the Meseta Central and the Sierra Madre of Chiapas to northern Nicaragua (Campbell and Vannini, 1989;Good, 1988;Sunyer and Köhler, 2007;Wilson and Johnson, 2010). ...
... However, because of their considerable morphological variation, the limits between these subspecies remain poorly understood (Solano-Zavaleta et al., 2016). For example, Tihen (1949:222) stated that "There is so much individual variation in this form (M. moreletii), and the localities from which collections of series of individuals have been made are so scattered that areas of intergradation cannot yet be definitely established. ...
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The widely distributed, Central American anguid lizard Mesaspis moreletii is currently recognized as a polytypic species with five subspecies (M. m. fulvus, M. m. moreletii, M. m. rafaeli, M. m. salvadorensis, and M. m. temporalis). We reevaluated the species limits within Mesaspis moreletii using DNA sequences of one mitochondrial and three nuclear genes. The multi-locus data set included samples of all of the subspecies of M. moreletii, the other species of Mesaspis in Central America (M. cuchumatanus and M. monticola), and some populations assignable to M. moreletii but of uncertain subspecific identity from Honduras and Nicaragua. We first used a tree-based method for delimiting species based on mtDNA data to identify potential evolutionary independent lineages, and then analized the multilocus dataset with two species delimitation methods that use the multispecies coalescent model to evaluate different competing species delimitation models: the Bayes Factors species delimitation method (BFD) implemented in ∗BEAST, and the Bayesian Phylogenetics and Phylogeography (BP&P) method. Our results suggest that M. m. moreletii, M. m. rafaeli, M. m. salvadorensis, and M. m. temporalis represent distinct evolutionary independent lineages, and that the populations of uncertain status from Honduras and Nicaragua may represent additional undescribed species. Our results also suggest that M. m. fulvus is a synonym of M. m. moreletii. The biogeography of the Central American lineages of Mesaspis is discussed.
... This synonymy was upheld by Good (1988), who justified his position by claiming a lack of differentiating lepidosis traits, contra Smith (1942) and Smith & Taylor (1950). Good also considered all M. antauges specimens to be male, and all M. modestus to be female, thus attributing their divergent body proportions to sexual dimorphism, which is known in congeners (Karges & Wright 1987;Solano-Zavaleta et al. 2016). ...
... However, in 2013 we collected three new specimens of Mesaspis from the northeastern slopes of Pico de Orizaba, including adults of both sexes. This material was mentioned by Solano-Zavaleta et al. (2016), but we describe it in detail here for the first time. Our morphological analysis of this and all pre-existing material, supplemented with biogeographic evidence, both validates M. antauges as a taxon and affirms the synonymy of M. antauges and M. modestus. ...
... Some past authors (e.g., Tihen 1949) have considered additional features to be diagnostically relevant for the gadovii group. However, recent work has revealed dramatic intra-and inter-species variation in Mesaspis, showing those features to be uninformative for diagnosis of gadovii group members (Karges & Wright 1987;Solano-Zavaleta et al. 2016). ...
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Vertebrate rediscoveries occur frequently, but must be properly documented for scientific credibility. Ongoing rediscoveries suggest a need for greater caution in declaring species extinct. Here, we report a rediscovery of the mysterious Mexican anguid lizard Mesaspis antauges (Cope 1866), a species last recorded by scientists in 1964. Our comparison of newly-collected material against previous specimens, all of which apparently originate from a single isolated volcanic peak, confirms the taxonomic validity of this species and the relegation of the binomen M. modestus (Cope 1878) to the status of a junior synonym. We include a brief discussion of the natural history of M. antauges, and explore the conservation implications of our rediscovery.––––Los redescubrimientos de vertebrados ocurren frecuentemente, pero deben ser debidamente documentados para la credibilidad científica. La serie de recientes redescubrimientos sugiere la necesidad de tener mayor precaución al declarar que las especies se han extinguido. Aquí reportamos el redescubrimiento del misterioso ánguido mexicano Mesaspis antauges (Cope 1866), una especie que los científicos registraron por última vez en 1964. Nuestra comparación de material recién recolectado y especímenes previos, todos los cuales aparentemente proceden de un solo pico volcánico aislado, confirma la validez taxonómica de esta especie y la relegación del binomio M. modestus (Cope 1878) al estatus de sinónimo más moderno. Incluimos una breve discusión de la historia natural de M. antauges, y exploramos las implicaciones de nuestro redescubrimiento en conservación.
... Nineteen species in our dataset were absent from the tree. We grafted these species on to the phylogeny as a sister to their closest relative in the tree at a random location along their terminal branch, or randomly within their shallowest clade affiliation, based on descriptions in the literature (Grummer and Bryson 2014, Köhler et al. 2014, Montanucci 2015, Campbell and Frost 2016, Lara-Tufiño et al. 2016, Solano-Zavaleta et al. 2016, Díaz-Cárdenas et al. 2017, Gottscho et al. 2017, Poe and Ryan 2017. A full list of placements is given in Supplementary material Appendix 1 Table A1. ...
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We describe a new arboreal alligator lizard species in the genus Abronia from the Sierra de Zongolica in west-central Veracruz, Mexico. The new species is presently known only from the vicinity of the type locality. It is diagnosable from all congeners by the following combination of characters: one occipital scale, two primary temporal scales contacting the postocular series, moderately protuberant posterolateral head scales, lack of protuberant or spine-like supra- auricular scales, 30–34 transverse dorsal scale rows, dorsal scales on the flanks arranged in slightly oblique longitudinal rows relative to the ventrolateral fold, and lateralmost ventral scale row unexpanded relative to the adjacent medial row. The new species occurs sympatrically with Abronia graminea, but genomic data assign it to the oaxacae group as the sister species of A. oaxacae, a finding that is corroborated by morphological evidence. We briefly discuss the regional biogeography of arboreal Abronia and comment on the Sierra de Zongolica as a complex transitional area of high species richness and conservation importance. ––––––––––––––––––––––Se describe una nueva especie de lagartija arbórea del género Abronia de la Sierra de Zongolica en el centro-oeste de Veracruz, México. Esta nueva especie se conoce actualmente sólo en las cercanías de la localidad tipo. Se puede distinguir de todos sus congéneres por medio de la siguiente combinación de caracteres: una escama occipital, dos escamas temporales primarias en contacto con la serie postocular, escamas posterolaterales de la cabeza moderadamente protuberantes, ausencia de escamas supra-auriculares protuberantes o espinosas, 30–34 hileras transversales de escamas dorsales, escamas dorsales en los flancos dispuestas en hileras longitudinales ligeramente oblicuas con respecto al pliegue ventrolateral, y la hilera de escamas ventral más lateral sin expandir con respecto a la hilera media adyacente. La nueva especie es simpátrica con Abronia graminea, sin embargo, los datos genómicos la asignan al grupo oaxacae como la especie hermana de A. oaxacae, asignación que se corrobora por la evidencia morfológica. Se discute brevemente sobre la biogeografía regional de las especies arborícolas de Abronia y se resalta la Sierra de Zongolica como un área de transición compleja con una alta riqueza de especies e importante para la conservación.
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