biology

Liolaemus uniformis: New Species of Iguana Discovered

Biologists at the Universidad de Chile have discovered a new species of iguana from Chepical Lagoon in Valparaiso Region, Chile.

The new species has been named Liolaemus uniformis, referring to the uniform coloration of both males and females. That’s what first tipped off scientists – both collected males and females were essentially the same color: brown upper side bodies, with varying light copper tones toward the back and tail.

iguana-Liolaemus-uniformis

Liolaemus uniformis – more slender female on the bottom. Image credit: Dr. Jaime Troncoso-Palacios

They also differed in size and scalation compared to the other local lizards. Moreover, most of the other lizards often varied greatly in color between sexes – but not Liolaemus uniformis.

According to scientists, a typical male measure around 3.3 inches (8.5 cm), with a tail of 5.1 inches (13 cm), while females are more slender and measure 2.8 inches (7 cm) in length.

Both males and females show upper side coloration in brown, while the under side of the body is shades of yellow with a whitish belly. The only distinctive variable in color the team found was a slight difference in the shade of the snout between two observed females.

The observed morphology differences of Liolaemus uniformis compared to other species was supported by mitochondrial DNA analysis.

“This new species was found inhabiting rocky areas with little shrubby vegetation composed mainly of high-Andean forbs. It was found in abundance and was observed to have saxicolous habits. It was active between 9:00 h and 18:00 h and took refuge under rocks,” the scientists wrote in a paper published in the journal ZooKeys.

The species is omnivorous, feeding mainly on insects and plants.

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