Squamates count a new genus with the description of Dendrosauridion yanesha, a new species of arboreal lizard from the Amazonian slopes of the Andes in central and southern Peru (photo above by M. Lundberg). The article authored by collaborator Dr. Edgar Lehr appeared today in the latest issue of the journal Salamandra. This new lizard had been identified as a distinct taxon and lineage in previous molecular phylogenies. The new genus Dendrosauridion can be distinguished morphologically from all other similar genera (in the group Cercosaurinae) by having the lower palpebral disc transparent and undivided, dorsal scales smooth, lateral scales distinctly smaller than dorsal scales, and lateral scales adjacent to ventrals non-granular, not forming a distinct longitudinal line along body axis. The new lizard has only been found at two localities, near Oxapampa in central Peru and near Abra Malaga in southern Peru, but its secretive and arboreal habits might make it difficult to detect at other sites. It is possible that Dendrosauridion yanesha has a larger distribution and/or that it is a more abundant species than we document in the paper. Along with our recent discovery of Euspondylus excelsum and other arboreal lizards, the addition of D. yanesha shows that the montane forest canopy of the Amazonian Andes still harbors an underestimated biodiversity of squamates.
News from the lab