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Fan-throat Sand-Lizard
Scientific classification
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  Animalia
Chordata
Reptilia
Squamata
Sauria
Agamidae
Lyriocephalus
L. scutatus
Sitana ponticeriana Cuvier, 1829
Fan-throat Sand-Lizard
Thith-weli Katussa

 

A small terrestrial agamid lizard, Rostral is small, bordered laterally by labial and behind by five small scales; mental much narrower than the rostral; nasal large, elevated where the nostril is pierced separated from rostral by a single scales; an elongate supra nasal contiguous or imbricating with canthal scales; Canthus rostralis and supraciliary edge sharp; supra ocular scales enlarged, irregular, unequal, strongly keeled; as are the occipital scales. Male with a low nuchal crest and a very large folding gular appendage with projecting, elongate scales, which extends backwards to about the middle of the belly; it is covered with very large scales. Female is without any trace of appendage. Length of head is not quite one and a half times its breadth, snout a little longer than the orbit. Diameter of the tympanum half that of the orbit; a few enlarged scales on the middle edge of upper eyelid; upper dorsal scales largest, with strong keels; laterals smallest, uniform or mixed with larger scales, the upper and anterior scales pointing upwards and backwards. Limbs above with uniform strongly keeled scales; five fingers on hand, four on foot; fourth toe extending well beyond third, fifth toe absent; the hind limb reaches to the front of the eye or to beyond the snout. No femoral or preanal pores. Tail round, slender, covered with equel-keeled scales. SUP: 8-9, INF: 8-8, SVL: 40-80 mm; TAL: 114 mm; HL: 15 mm; AG: 25 mm (Deraniyagala, 1953; Smith, 1935 Taylor, 1953).

Male is darker than female. Light or dark brown above, with a series of dark brown, black edged, six pairs of rhomboidal spots along the middle of the back; a more or less distinct light line along each side of the spots and sometimes a light vertebral line dividing them; flanks, top of head and upper surface of limbs with or without dark markings; whitish below. A metallic cream spot is on the tympanum, a black line from tip of chin back and on to the front of the gular appendage. Inside of the mouth is blue. Gular sac has posterior part pink or red middle with black and a lavender blue anterior portion, the brilliant coloration of this appendage is assumed only in the breeding season (Deraniyagala, 1953; Smith, 1935 Taylor, 1953).

Sitana ponticeriana is restricted to warm lowland habitats and is most abundant in the drier coastal areas, the whole of India up to the Himalayan foothills; not recorded from Sind or Bengal east of the Gangas, Sri Lanka (Smith, 1935; Manamendra-Arachchi & Liyanage, 1994). They live under open scrubs of xenomorphic plants, and need dusty or sandy ground to run bipedal (Kratzer, 1980; Subba, 1972). It is primarily a ground dwelling species but is sometimes found on trees.

It can run with considerable speed and on the approach of danger dashes away, with tail-tip erect, until it finds refuge in some hole or crack in the ground or in bush. When running quickly it often adopts a bi-pedal method of locomotion (Smith, 1935). During morning hours it is very active and generally engaged in basking or feeding (Bhagyashri et al., 2003). When excited it unfolds and folds its gular appendage very rapidly several times in succession, producing the appearance of flickering spark of light (Deraniyagala, 1931).

Sitana ponticeriana feeds on Ants and other small insects (Bhagyashri et al., 2003). This lizard is an oviparous, multi-clutched and female digs a nest hole in the ground and deposits 6-14 eggs in May –October (Radder, 2003). The eggs are chalky white in color and 10 mm long by 5-6 mm wide (Daniel, 2002). During courtship the male stands with its forequarters well raised from the ground and the hindquarters pressed on the base of the tail (Smith, 1935)

Conservation status: Large, widely dispersed, stable population (Manamendra-Arachchi & Liyanage, 1994), Least Concern (Bahir & Surasinghe, 2005).

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Type: ?
Terra typica: “Indes orientales”, restricted to “Ponidcherry” by SMITH 1935.

Synonyms

  • Sitana ponticeriana CUVIER 1829: 43 (fide SMITH 1935)
  • Semiophorus Pondicerianus — WIEGMANN 1834: 14
  • Sitana ponticeriana — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1837: 437
  • Litana Ponticereana [sic] — KELAART 1854: 138
  • Sitana minor GÜNTHER 1864 (fide BOULENGER 1885)
  • Sitana deccanensis JERDON 1870: 76
  • Sitana ponticeriana — BOULENGER 1885: 270
  • Sitana pondicerianus — SCHMIDT 1926
  • Sitana ponticeriana — SMITH 1935: 144
  • Sitana ponticeriana ponticeriana — DERANIYAGALA 1953
  • Sitana ponticeriana deccanensis — DERANIYAGALA 1953
  • Sitana ponticeriana — WERMUTH 1967: 96
  • Sitana ponticeriana mucronata DERANIYAGALA 1958
  • Sitana ponticeriana — MANTHEY & SCHUSTER 1999: 104
  • Sitana ponticertiana — BAHIR & SURASINGHE 2005 (in error)
  • Sitana ponticeriana — JANZEN et al. 2007
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