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Darevskia valentini (Valentin’s Rock Lizard / Valentin Kaya Kertenkelesi)

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Darevskia valentini (Valentin’s Rock Lizard / Valentin Kaya Kertenkelesi)

Darevskia valentini (Valentin’s Rock Lizard / Valentin Kaya Kertenkelesi) [Female/Dişi] from Bolkar Mt, Ulukışla, Niğde -23.05.2009.

Darevskia (Eastern Rock Lizards, formerly Lacerta saxicola komplex) genus includes lizards possessing the two following features found only in a minority of other lacertid lizards: 27–28 presacral vertebrae in males, one postnasal scale. Other more widely distributed features include: supraocular osteoderms (bony plates) fenestrated or intact in adults, usually seven premaxillary teeth, inscriptional ribs present in some species, tail often brightly coloured in hatchlings, hemipenial microornamentation of crown-shaped tubercles. A few species of Darevskia are parthenogenetic [from the Greek παρθένος parthenos, "virgin", + γένεσις genesis, "creation") is an asexual form of reproduction found in females where growth and development of embryos occurs without fertilization by males], and males of some bite the thigh of the female during copulation. Approx. 27 species was described belonging to this genus, and of these aprrox. 17 species are distributed in Anatolia. The general distribution of the genus representatives is restricted to Caucasus region, Crimea and N and E Turkey, eastwards to Alborz mountains of Iran and to Kopet Dagh on Iran-Turkmenistan border; one species (D. praticola- Meadow Lizard) reaching the eastern Balkan peninsula.

Adults up to about 50–85 mm from snout to vent (total lenght up to 23 cm); adult males usually larger than females, but not in D. valentini; head and body markedly depressed. Rostral plate usually separated from frontonasal scale but sometimes in contact (for example in parthenogenetic species D. unisexualis found in Turkey –Erzurum, Ardahan & Ağrı- and adjacent Georgia); row of supraciliary granules usually complete; outer edge of parietal scale reaching lateral border of parietal table posteriorly. One postnasal scale; typically no contact between supranasal and anterior loreal scales above nostril (present in D. derjugini known from Turkey -Ardahan, Artvin, Trabzon, Rize- Georgia and W Azerbaijan); usually four upper labial scales in front of subocular plate; first upper temporal scale large in most species; masseteric scale (larger scale which is located in temporal region) present. Dorsal body scales small and often smooth (but keeled in some species including D. praticola), about 35–70 in a transverse row at mid-body [This number is 41-59 in D. valentini]. Collar smooth or serrated; six longitudinal rows of ventral scales; preanal scale moderate or large, bordered by a single semicircle of smaller scales, the most anterior one or two of which sometimes enlarged; scales under toes smooth or tubercular; whorls of tail scales alternately longer and shorter.

Little sexual dimorphism in colouring is seen except D. valentini. Basic dorsal pattern consisting of longitudinal streaks or bands, and flanks may be reticulated. Ground colour brown, grey or green. Blue occelli often present in shoulder region. Belly often brightly coloured, and may be yellow, orange or red (as in D. parvula and D. valentini) or greenish-yellow or green (as in D. raddei, D. rudis, D. caucasica, D. derjugini and D. praticola); bright ventral colour usually reduced or absent in parthenogenetic populations; throat colour may be differentiated from belly; dark ventral spotting usually absent; blue spots generally present on outer row of ventral scales; juveniles often with brightly coloured, greenish or bluish tails. In D. valentini females there is generally smooth dorsal pattern without longitudinal streaks or bands and also the number of the blue ocelli in shoulder region is lower than males (1-2 instead of 3-5). The coloration of the venter shows subspecific variation. It is represented with two subspecies in Turkey: The nominate race (D. v. valentini which is distributed in Artvin, Ardahan, Kars, Iğdır and Van provinces) has a orange venter during the breeding season, however this is yellow in the other known subspecies, D. v. lantzicyreni. The later subspecies is found in C and E Anatolia from Niğde to Erzurum in some isolated populations restricted with vertical distributions between 1800-3000 m. In Bolkar Mt., they can be seen at the elavations between 2250-3000 asl. Many species of the genus live mainly on rock exposures and use crevices as refuges, but D. chlorogaster- known from Azerbaijan & Iran- is often associated with fallen and standing timber, while D. derjugini, D. clarkorum and D. praticola are largely ground-dwelling, often in and around herbaceous vegetation; some species are exclusively montane as is D. valentini.

Some species of Darevskia are parthenogenetic and result from hybridisation between sexual species. These are D. armeniaca, D. bendimahiensis, D. dahli, D. rostombekowi, D. sapphirina, D. unisexualis and D. uzzelli, a number of which are made up of more than one clone. Males of the majority of species bite only flank of females during copulation, others bite both the flank and the thigh, or just the thigh alone. Clutches usually consisting of about 2–8 eggs.

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. Baran, I. & Atatür, M. K. (1998). Turkish Herpetofauna (Amphibians & Reptiles). Ministry of Environment, Ankara. 214 pp. 4. Arnold, N.E. (1978). A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain and Europe.Collins, London, UK, 288 pp. 5. 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.

Author Bayram GÖÇMEN
Created on Saturday 23 May 2009
Posted on Thursday 14 July 2011
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