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Discovery of a living giant lizard, genus Gallotia (Reptilia: lacertidae), from La Gomera, Canary Islands

AuthorsNogales, Manuel ; Rando, J. Carlos; Valido, Alfredo ; Martín, Aurelio
Gallotia gomerana
La Gomera
Canary Islands
External Morphology
Issue Date2001
PublisherHerpetologists' League
CitationHerpetologica 57(2): pp. 169-179 (2001)
AbstractWe describe the external morphology of a new giant lizard found alive on La Gomera Island (Canarian Archipelago), which had been previnusly described from subfossil bones. Adult size (SVI, 135-190 mm) is comparable with the two largest living species (G. simonyi and G. stehlini) of the genus. It differs from the other species of Gallotia in the low number of temporal scales (21-27), presence of one elougate interprefrontal scale (linearly depressed in center) that is very infrequent in most of its congeners (small when it is present), having two distinetive lateral lines of small blue spots, and in having a blackish-brown dorsuin and ventral parts ivory white. According to subfossil data, based on tooth morphology and body size, this lizard seems to correspond to the putatively extinet subspecies (G. simonyi gomerana). This taxon is sufficiently distinet to be treated as a full species, G. gomerana. Molecular data analysis from mtDNA sequences (eytochrome b and 12S rRNA) indicate that G. gomerana is closely related to G. simonyi and C. intermedia. After prospeeting 70 localities in La Gomera, we only found a very small and threatened population of this species in Valle Gran Rey, in the western part of the island and living in an area of less than Iha. A small population size (only six individuals are known) and a large number of feral cats in their habitat makes this lizard the most endangered vertebrate of the Canaries and Europe and one of the most threatened in all world. The species is supected to be on the brink of extinction, 50 conservation measures are urgently needed, including a captive breeding olan at Valle Gran Rey, close to the natural habitat.
En el presente trabajo se describe la morfología externa de un nuevo lagarto gigante hallado en la isla de La Gomera (archipiélago canario), el cual había sido descrito a partir de huesos fósiles. Su talla (LIIC: 135-190 mm) es comparable con la de los otros dos lagartos gigantes del género (G. simonyi y G. stehlini). Difiere en genral de las otras especies de Gallotia en el bajo número de escamas de las regiones temporal (21-27), presencia de una escama alargada interprefrontal (deprimida linealmente en el centro) muy poco frecuente en la mayoría de las otras especies (reducida cuando existe), además de presentar dos líneas de pequrños ocelos azules en los flancos del cuerpo, un dorso marrón-negruzco y partes ventrales de color blanco marfil.
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