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 deccanensis (Jerdon, 1870) comb. nov.

(Figs 14A, 15A-D; Table 2, 4, 7, 8)

Sitana deccanensis Jerdon, 1870

Sitana ponticeriana deccanensis Deraniyagala, 1953

Sitana deccanensis Amarsinghe, Ineich, Karunarathna, Botejue and Campbell, 2015

Fig. 15. Sarada deccanensis comb. nov. collected from Jalna, Maharashtra. (A) full body dorsal (B) flank region (C) head dorsal (D) head lateral. Scale bar is equal to 10 mm.

Syntypes. Male, BMNH 1946.8.27.39, SVL 67.6 mm, India, presented by J.E. Gray; male, BMNH 1946.8. 27.40, SVL 60.0 mm, India, presented by J.E. Gray.

Referred specimens. CES 14608-14609 (2 adult females), CES 14611-14623 (9 males, 2 females), NCBS-AQ050 (1 adult male )BNHS-2307 (1 adult female) all individuals collected near Indewadi, Jalna District, Maharashtra State, georeferenced latitude N19.79636o, longitude E75.85397o, collected by V. Deepak, Raman Upadhye, and Durgesh Pangarkar on 16 April 2014. ZSIK 6331 (1 adult female) collected by Major Houghton on 12 July 1871 from Nashik. BMNH 1946.8.27.39 and BMNH 1946.8.27.40 collected by Gray, India, measurements and counts of BMNH syntypes are referred from Amarasinghe et al. (2015).

Comments. This species has been the subject of substantial taxonomic confusion because of vague type locality information, as well as the description by Günther, 1864 of Sitana minor based on a mixture of specimens that included both Sitana deccanensis and S. ponticeriana (see Amarasinghe et al., 2015). Sitana minor is now a synonym of Sitana ponticeriana (Amarasinghe et al., 2015). The original syntypes of Sarada deccanensis presented by Gray are currently in the British Museum of Natural History (Amarasinghe et al., 2015). We assume that the original description by T.C. Jerdon was based on samples from Jalna, Maharashtra. As he wasposted in Jalna (Jalnah) in Maharashtra (Elliot, 1873). Many of his herpetological collections were obtained in and around Jalna, including Psammophis condanarus (as Leptophis bellii), Calliophis melanurus (as Elaps melanurus), and Eutropis trivittata (as Tiliqua trivittata) (Theobald, 1876). Although Jerdon (1870) did not specify exactly where in Deccan he had collected Sarada deccanensis, considering he was collecting in Jalna, it is likely the specimens were collected in or near Jalna. Therefore, we fix Jalna as the type locality of Sarada deccanensis comb. nov. Because the syntype descriptions are based on two specimens with vague locality information (“India”), we provide a complete description based on new topotypic material from Jalna, Maharashtra.

The body scale counts of the syntypes at the BMNH match those of our newly collected specimens from the type locality but these characters overlap with other two species in the genus Sarada gen. nov. The extent that the dewlap extends onto the trunk region for the syntypes is 55.6% and 54.5%, which is consistent with some of the specimens collected from the type locality.

Diagnosis. Sarada deccanensis comb. nov. is closed related to the congeners S. superba sp. nov. and S. darwini sp. nov. due to similar colour and body size. Sarada deccanensis comb. nov. can be distinguished from S. superba sp. nov. and S. darwini sp. nov. in having proportionally longer hind limbs (exceeding the SVL). Sarada deccanensis comb. nov. are large in size, males (62.2 ± 3.8) and females (52.2 ± 4.2). Details on morphometric data and body ratios of select characters for multiple samples are given in Tables 2 and 8. Furthermore, Sarada deccanensis comb. nov. is a species inhabiting northern parts of Maharashtra, whereas the other two species are found only in southern Maharashtra.

Genetic divergence. The differences shown here are for all the three species in the new genus Sarada gen. nov. Sarada deccanensis comb. nov. exhibits only 0-1% intraspecific genetic divergence in the ND2 gene. Sarada deccanensis comb. nov. is 11% divergent from Sarada darwini sp. nov. and 11-12% divergent from Sarada superba sp. nov. (S4).

Description of topotype. NCBS-AQ050 (Figs 14A, 15A-D; Table 7). The holotype is in a good condition. The tail is entire, bent to the right side, the dewlap is slightly exposed on the right side and can be seen from above. An adult male, SVL 65.7 mm. Head relatively long (HL/SVL 0.28), broad (HW/HL ratio 0.70), not depressed (HH/HL ratio 0.61), distinct from neck. Snout short (SE/HL ratio 0.39), pointed, longer than eye diameter (OD/SE ratio 0.75). Eye large (ED/HL ratio 0.29); pupil round, eyelids covered with small pentagonal scales, supraciliaries short. Snout obtusely pointed when viewed from above, rostral wider than deep, contacted laterally by first supralabials, a smaller prenasal and three small scales dorsally. Canthus rostralis and supraciliary edge sharp. Nostril subcircular, laterally positioned, placed at centre of a large, undivided and roughly pentagonal nasal plate, which is bordered by six scales (right side), including one prenasal, two postnasals and one supranasal, separated from rostral by prenasal and from first supralabial by two enlarged scales. 13 (right) – 14 (left) rectangular, equal sized, strongly keeled supralabials, bordered above by a single row of roughly rectangular, keeled scales, becoming smaller in size posteriorly, terminates above 10th supralabial; infralabials 13 (right) – 14 (left), strongly keeled, equal sized, rectangular. Loreal region concave, scales of the loreal region heterogeneous in size and shape, flat, keeled, a single row of rectangular, keeled scales beginning behind postnasal and terminating below eye. Scales on postorbital and temporal region vaguely heterogeneous, subimbricate, strongly keeled, obtusely pointed and mostly directed posterodorsally. Orbital scales small, flat, juxtaposed, not granular. Tympanum naked. Canthals enlarged, overlapping, becoming slightly larger along supraciliaries that are subimbricate, protrude slightly laterally on supraorbital ridge. Scales on dorsal surface of snout, forehead, interorbital and occipital region are barely heterogeneous in size and shape, smallest on snout, a few large scales on forehead and interorbital position, obtusely pointed, subimbricate, strongly keeled longitudinally, fairly regularly arranged throughout; supraorbital and interorbital scales more or less similar except a few enlarged scales; occipital scales much smaller in size, barely heterogeneous in size and shape, weakly pointed, keeled and irregularly arranged. Parietal plate indistinct from remainder, with small pineal eye, surrounded on either side by two enlarged scales. Mental shield narrower than rostral; scales on the gular region smooth. Dewlap large, extends to 51% of the trunk, with posterior scales extending beyond axila, dewlap scales elongate, pointed, keeled, gradually increasing in size towards margin and trunk, marginal row is similar in size as adjacent scales, 24 enlarged rows of scale on dewlap. Nuchal and dorsal crest very weak. Scales on nuchal region slightly larger than those of occipital region, regularly arranged, imbricate, strongly keeled. Body slender, 69 rows of scales at mid-body, of these about 11 rows of scales on back, starting from back of neck to pectoral region homogeneous in size and shape, slightly larger than those on neck, imbricate, pointed and keeled, these scales directed posteriorly forming regularly arranged longitudinal rows; those on flanks homogeneous in size, shape, smaller than those on back, obtusely pointed and keeled, upper rows appear to be directed posterodorsally and lower rows posteroventrally; ventral scales subimbricate, keeled, homogeneous in size and shape, arranged in 95 rows; no precloacal or femoral pores.

Fore and hindlimbs relatively slender; tibia short (CL/SVL ratio 0.33); digits moderately long, ending in strong, elongate, slightly recurved claw; inter-digital webbing absent; subdigital lamellae entire and bimucronate, subdigital lamellae on toe IV, 24; relative length of fingers 4=3>5>2>1 and toes 4>3>2>1. Fore- and hind limbs covered above and below with regularly arranged, enlarged, pointed and strongly keeled scales.

Tail entire; tail base swollen; tail uniformly covered with similar sized, keeled, weakly pointed, regularly arranged, posteriorly directed imbricate scales, no enlarged subcaudal row.

Colour in life. Dorsum pale to dark brown with a black patch on the neck, four rhomboidal markings on the trunk dark brown edged with black. Dorsum bordered on each side with a cream line. One prominent cream line begins below the eye extending to the forearm, one cream line extending behind the eye to the dorsal line and another behind the labials which terminates before the forearm insertion. A black patch present between the eyes, five medium to large black patches on top of the head, several small black patches on the occiput region. Two short black lines behind the eye. Belly mostly orange but near the vent pale white (iridescent) in color. Forelimbs, hind limbs, and tail have dark brown bars of variable width. Dewlap with yellow lines on the side of the throat, from the iridescent blue colour of the mental, followed by black and then dark orange, which extends to the vent.

Colour in preservation. Colouration is similar to that of live specimens. Rhomboidal markings and dark brown bars on limbs and tail faintly visible. Colouration on flanks is slightly darker than that of the back. Dewlap colouration is faint.

Variation in paratypes. NCBS-AQ050 matches well with the syntypes of Sitana deccanensis (BMNH 1946.8.27.30 and 40) in the number of scales around the trunk. NCBS-AQ050 has one additional ventral scale and one additional fourth toe lamella compared to the syntypes. The female BNHS 2307 agrees with the male in all the characters except absence of a dewlap, 66 scales around the body, and 23 subdigital lamellae under the fourth toe. BNHS 2307 has 77 ventral scales. Live body coloration varies from dark to light brown, there is a black roughly diamond shaped blotch between the eyes, and six black blotches (diamond or triangular shaped) from neck to hind limb. Morphometric data for the topotypes are summarized in S5.

Suggested English name. Deccan large fan-throated lizard.

Distribution. Sarada deccanensis comb. nov. is recorded from Vaijapur in Aurangabad District, Gangapur in Nashik District, Indewadi in Jalna District and Pallam in Nanded District of Maharashtra State (Fig. 8). Blandford (1870) noted the occurrence of this species in Chanda (now Chandrapur), but we did not find any individuals during our surveys of this region. The altitudinal distribution is between 357 and 639 m.a.s.l.

Habitat and natural history. Sarada deccanensis comb. nov. is a terrestrial agamid found in the grasslands, agriculture fields, and on lateritic terrain in the northern hill ranges and north eastern plains of the Deccan (Fig. 14F). One of the first mentions of the breeding color and season of this species was by Blanford (1870), who observed them breeding during April and May. We also observed breeding males in May. Near Gangapur Dam, Nashik District, this species was seen using cracks in the black soil as temporary refuges (Kiran Rahalkar pers. obs.). Sitana spinaecephalus sp. nov. and Calotes versicolor are the other agamids found in the same habitat.