Project 2355: J. Smid, J. Moravec, V. Gvozdik, J. Stundl, D. Frynta, P. Lymberakis, P. Kapli, T. Wilms, A. Schmitz, M. Shobrak, S. Hosseinian Yousefkhani, E. Rastegar-Pouyani, A. M. Castilla, J. Els, W. Mayer. 2017. Cutting the Gordian Knot: Phylogenetic and ecological diversification of the Mesalina brevirostris species complex (Squamata, Lacertidae). Zoologica Scripta. 2017 (46):649-664.
Specimen: Mesalina microlepis (Angel, 1936) (NMP:74214/2)
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Mesalina are small lacertid lizards occurring in the Saharo-Sindian deserts from North Africa to the east of the Iranian plateau. Earlier phylogenetic studies indicated that there are several species complexes within the genus and that thorough taxonomic revisions are needed. In this study, we aim at resolving the phylogeny and taxonomy of the M. brevirostris species complex distributed from the Middle East to the Arabian/Persian Gulf region and Pakistan. We sequenced three mitochondrial and three nuclear gene fragments, and in combination with species delimitation and species-tree estimation, we infer a time-calibrated phylogeny of the complex. The results of the genetic analyses support the presence of four clearly delimited species in the complex that diverged approximately between the middle Pliocene and the Pliocene/Pleistocene boundary. Species distribution models of the four species show that the areas of suitable habitat are geographically well delineated and nearly allopatric, and that most of the species have rather divergent environmental niches. Morphological characters also confirm the differences between the species, although sometimes minute. As a result of all these lines of evidence, we revise the taxonomy of the Mesalina brevirostris species complex. We designate a lectotype for Mesalina brevirostris Blanford, 1874; resurrect the available name Eremias bernoullii Schenkel, 1901 from the synonymy of M. brevirostris; elevate M. brevirostris microlepis (Angel, 1936) to species status; and describe Mesalina saudiarabica, a new species from Saudi Arabia.

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Article DOI: 10.1111/zsc.12254

Project DOI: 10.7934/P2355,
This project contains
  • 90 Media
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  • 8 Specimens
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MorphoBank Project 2355

    Authors' Institutions

    • Natural History Museum of Crete

    • Muséum d'histoire naturelle de Genève (Natural History Museum of Geneva)

    • Charles University in Prague

    • University of Crete

    • Natural History Museum, Vienna (Naturhistorisches Museum, Wien)

    • National Museum in Prague

    • Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife

    • Allwetterzoo Münster

    • Taif University

    • South African National Biodiversity Institute

    • Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies

    • Islamic Azad University

    • Hakim Sabzevari University

    • Hamad Bin Khalifa University


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    Jiri Smid
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