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Timon princeps (Siirt Lizard, Zagrosian Lizard/Siirt Kertenkelesi)

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Timon princeps (Siirt Lizard, Zagrosian Lizard/Siirt Kertenkelesi)

Timon princeps (=Lacerta princeps) (Siirt Lizard, Zagrosian Lizard/Siirt Kertenkelesi)[Female/Dişi] from Zinnar, Mardin -21.05.2013.

A spectacular and beautiful lizard species peculiar to SE Anatolian region in Turkey. Timon is a genus includes lizards possessing the following features sharing with the genus Lacerta found only in a minority of other lacertid lizards, that are sometimes restricted to the two genera: large body size, head and body deep, nasal process of premaxilla often broad, nine premaxillary teeth in adults, usually 27 presacral vertebrae in males; often seven posterior presacral vertebrae with short ribs; occipital scale often relatively broad, collar strongly serrated, ventral scales with sloping sides and strong posterior overlap, preanal scale often surrounded by more than one semicircle of smaller scales, often green above and underside without bright contrasting colour except sometimes on throat, no blue spots on outer ventral scales, hatchlings ‘embryonic’ with very large head and short extremities compared with those of most other Lacertids. Other more widely distributed features include: supraocular osteoderms (bone structures embeded in skin) complete in adults, inscriptional ribs present, and tail not brightly coloured in hatchlings. Differs from Lacerta in larger adult body sizes (100–210 mm or more from snout to vent); maxillary-jugal suture not stepped, medial loop of clavicle more often interrupted posteriorly, occipital scale more frequently very broad, dorsal body scales not always keeled; no narrow light stripes in in dorsal pattern, often well defined blue ocelli on flanks, hemipenial microornamentation of hook-shaped spines, longer spines occurring on the lobe flanks only in T. princeps.

Four species [Timon lepidus; T. pater; T. princeps and T. tangitanus] were described bleonging to this genus, and they are sitributed in Iberian peninsula, southern France, extreme northwest Italy and northwest Africa (Morocco, Western Sahara, north Algeria and Tunisia), with one species (T. princeps) occurring disjunctly in eastern Turkey, northeast Syria, north Iraq and southwest Iran.

As the diagnostic features: the outer row of ventrals (marginals) are keeled, as are all flank scales; neck scales keeled; lower edge of subocular half or greater than half maximum length of shield; 17-19 gulars; 16-21 femoral pores on each side.

The dorsum light yellow- to olive-brown, often olive-gray, crossed by irregular network of dark brown, forming irregular crossbars on back and broad longitudinal zone on sides, this pattern distinct to scarcely noticeable; dark brown flecks on top of head; longitudinal rows of whitish spots contained within dark network, largest and most sharply delineated anteriorly, smaller and irregular caudad and ventrad, often occupying only one or two scales; especially in axillary region, ocelli formed by dark brown (never black) pigment surrounding light spots. in other areas dark vertical bars each enclose a row of light spots; light spots always extend over sides of sacral region onto sides of tail base; tail often checkered in appearance; extremities, especially hind limbs, spotted with whitish; venter white to light grayish-yellow. Juveniles (less than 57 mm snout-vent) appear uniform at first glance due to indistinct pattern. Top of head, supratemporals, and upper temporals olive to chestnut brown, indistinctly dark-flecked. remainder of head (from behind tympanum, below mental, all infralabials, chin shields, and anterior gulars) intensive brownish- to bluish-black; throat and collar light orange-red, with pale orange to reddish-brown on side of neck; longitudinal rows of light spots greenish to intense yellowish- to bluish-green. Old adult females show wash of bluish-gray on part of head which is black in males. The largest male measures 148 mm snout-vent, tail 303 mm; largest female, snout-vent 131 mm.

The habitats lie within the thermomediterranean climatic zone (100-150 dry days) (Mardin and Siirt Vilayets in Turkey, and northern Iraq), and in cold, dry steppe (5-8 months of frost, partly combined with dry period) (northeastern Iraq, northwestern Iran, Hakkari Vilayet in Turkey). All are within the Irano-Turanian xerophilous and summer-green Zagros oak forest climax vegetation type characterized by the presence of Quercus brandti.

References: 1. Göçmen, B. (Unpub. results). The results of herpetological trips. 2. Budak, A. & Göçmen, B. (2005). Herpetology. Ege Üniversitesi Fen Fakültesi Kitaplar Serisi, No. 194, Ege Üniversitesi Basimevi, Bornova-Izmir, 226 pp. [2nd Edition, 2008]. 3. Anderson, S. C (1998). The Lizards of Iran. Contribution to Herpetology, Vol. 15, Society for the Study of Amphibians & Reptiles, NY, 442pp. 4. Arnold, E. N., Arribas, O. & Carranza, S. 2007. Systematics of the Palaearctic and Oriental lizard tribe Lacertini (Squamata Lacertidae Lacertinae), with descriptions of eight new genera. Zootaxa 1430: 1-86.

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Author Bayram GÖÇMEN
Created on Tuesday 21 May 2013
Posted on Saturday 08 June 2013
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