Contributions to Zoology, 85 (1) – 2016V. Deepak; Varad B. Giri; Mohammad Asif; Sushil Kumar Dutta; Raju Vyas; Amod M. Zambre; Harshal Bhosale; K. Praveen Karanth: Systematics and phylogeny of Sitana (Reptilia: Agamidae) of Peninsular India, with the description of one new genus and five new species

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Sarada Deepak, Karanth and Giri, gen. nov.

Suggested English name. Large fan-throated lizards.

Type species. Sitana deccanensis Jerdon, 1870.

Content. Sarada deccanensis (Jerdon, 1870) comb. nov., Sarada darwini sp. nov., Sarada superba sp. nov.

Etymology. The generic epithet is derived from the word ‘Sarada,’ which is the Marathi word for agamid lizards in Maharashtra and some parts of Karnataka, where this genus is endemic.

Diagnosis. Sarada gen. nov. can be easily diagnosed from all other agamid lizards from the Indian subcontinent except Sitana in having five fingers and four toes. Sarada gen. nov. is closely related to two genera from Indian subcontinent, Otocryptis Wagler 1830 and Sitana Cuvier (1829). Sarada gen. nov. can be easily differentiated from Otocryptis by the absence of fifth toe and exposed tympanum. Sarada gen. nov. can be diagnosed from Sitana by following unique combination of characters: breeding males with iridescent blue, orange and black colour with yellow stripes, the orange colour in some individuals extending all the way to the vent; absence of enlarged scale on the thigh; scales on flanks homogeneous, absence of enlarged scales on the lateral side of the body, absence of enlarged, strongly keeled scales around the tympanum; additionally Sarada gen. nov. can be distinguished from the Sitana sivalensis complex by the following set of characters: large body size (range 52.9-74.4 mm SVL males; range 43.6-64.3 mm SVL females); very large dewlap with enlarged overlapping scales extending all the way to middle of the abdomen (mean 51% up to 73% of TRL). Osteologically, Sarada gen. nov. can be distinguished from Sitana ponticeriana and Sitana spinaecephalus clades by the additional phalange on the fourth finger and in having one less trunk vertebra (Fig. 7 and Table 6). Dorsum pale brown to dark brown with four black brown-edged rhomboidal markings, the one on the nuchal region is darker than the remainder, and the back is bordered on each side with a thin cream coloured band. One prominent buff coloured line begins below the eye extending to the forearam, and another is comparatively broad and extends from behind the eye to the neck; a prominent dark brown interorbital patch is present but does not reach the eyes. Limbs and tail with dark brown or black bands of variable widths.

Distribution. Restricted distribution in Maharshtra and north Karnataka, the northern most records are from Nashik in Maharashtra, and the southernmost are in Bellary and Bidnal in north Karnataka. The easternmost records are from Chanda (Chandrapur) (Blanford, 1870; Amarasinghe et al., 2015). Based on the available records, it appears that they are not found in the lowlands and coastal plateaus on the western part of the distribution of the genus.