Thursday, December 24, 2015

[Herpetology • 2015] Phrynocephalus sakoi • A New Species of Phrynocephalus (Agamidae, Sauria) from Al Sharqiyah Sands, Northeastern Oman, Dedicated to the Memory of Sako Tuniyev (1983 – 2015)

Phrynocephalus sakoi 
 Melnikov, Melnikova, Nazarov, Al-Johany & Ananjeva, 2015

sp. nov.
in the vicinity of Filim, Al Sharqiyah Sands, northeastern Oman.
Photo by Daniel Melnikov.


A revision of taxonomic structure of Phrynocephalus arabicus Anderson, 1894 complex was presented in our previous paper. However further investigations showed that specimens from southern Arabia do not refer to one species. A new species from Al Sharqiyah Sands, northeastern Oman is described. It differs morphologically from all other representatives of Ph. arabicus complex by body and tail proportions, dorsal coloration, undertail coloration and genetic characters. Phrynocephalus arabicus sensu stricto is distributed in Yemen, southwestern Oman, UAE, and southern Saudi Arabia. Phrynocephalus nejdensis Haas, 1957 is valid species, based on the morphological and genetic difference. Taxonomic status of Phrynocephalus macropeltis Haas, 1957 needs further confirmation with material from the type locality.

Keywords: Squamata; Acrodonta; Agamidae; Phrynocephalus sp. nov.; Al Sharqiyah Sands, northeastern Oman

Phrynocephalus sakoi sp. nov. 

Holotype: ZISP 28705, adult male (Fig. 4).
Paratypes: ZISP 28706 – 28710, ZISP 27089, CAS251008, 251022, 251023 (Fig. 5, Table 3).

Type locality. Al Sharqiyah Sands, Filim vicinity, northeastern Oman.

Diagnosis. A large and “heavy” Phrynocephalus species  with  tail  longer  than  body  in  both  sexes;  five-star shape bright orange pattern on head in females and black in males, two bright orange stripes on the neck in female sand black in males, two longitudinal rows of six bright orange (salmon) patches on the dorsum in females and black in males; with white under tail coloration without bands in both sexes with black distal third in males and black quarter in females  (two  bands)  and  no  bands  in white proximal part.

Etymology. Species dedicated to the memory of our close friend and colleague Sako Tuniyev, who tragically passed away on January 5, 2015. His death was shockand big tragedy for all who know him. The new species dedicated to the memory of young zoologist in the beginning of his carrier, with many fresh ideas and new collaborative projects, to a good son of distinguished father, to a father of two kids and a good husband, to our brother and colleague. We will always keep him in our hearts

Distribution. Species expected to be isolated in Al Sharqiyah Sands, northeastern Oman.

Fig. 7. Variation of dorsal coloration in living Phrynocephalus sakoi sp. nov. males in situ:
a,b, hard substrate (gravel) form;c,d, fine sand form.

DISCUSSION: Additional studies of Ph. arabicus sensu lato from southern Arabia showed that it is polytypical complex. Ph. sakoi sp. nov. from Al Sharqiyah Sands is characterized by morphological and genetic differences. This isolated desert consists of many large North-South linear dunes that are separated from each other by 2–3 km intervals (Radies et al., 2004; Edgell, 2006). A new species of endemic gecko Stenodactylus sharqiyahensis was also described from the Al Sharqiyah Sands (Metallinou and Carranza, 2013). Arabia is characterized by high speciesdiversity of lizards, as indicated by descriptions of manynew species in the last years (Carranza and Arnold, 2012; Melnikov and Pierson 2012; Melnikov et al., 2012a,2013a, 2013b, 2014; Nazarov et al., 2013). Some areas like Al Sharqiyah Sands are characterized by high level of endemism and needs special study. 

According to the molecular phylogenetic analyses and morphological results Ph. arabicus complex represent at least four well distinguished taxa. They are: Ph. arabicus sensu stricto from the southern Arabia (Yemen, southwestern Oman, southern Saudi Arabia, UAE), Ph. nejdensis from the northwestern Arabia (southern Jordan, northern and central Saudi Arabia), Ph. ahvazicus from the northwestern Iran, and Ph. sakoi sp. nov. represented by an isolated population in the Al Sharqiyah Sands, northeastern Oman. This four species are divided into two groups: southwestern Arabian Ph. arabicus + northeastern Arabian Ph. ahvazicus and northwestern Arabian Ph. nejdensis + southeastern Ph. sakoi sp. nov. Taxonomic status of Ph. macropeltis from the eastern coastal Arabia (eastern Saudi Arabia) needs further confirmation with material from the type locality (work in progress).

Daniel Melnikov, Ekaterina Melnikova, Roman Nazarov, Awadh Al-Johany and Natalia Ananjeva. 2015. A New Species of Phrynocephalus (Agamidae, Sauria) from Al Sharqiyah Sands, Northeastern Oman, Dedicated to the Memory of Sako Tuniyev (1983 – 2015). Russian Journal of Herpetology. 22(4): 301–309.