Published April 19, 2021. Updated February 8, 2024. Open access. Peer-reviewed.

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Diamond Anadia (Anadia rhombifera)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Gymnophthalmidae | Anadia rhombifera

English common name: Diamond Anadia.

Spanish common names: Anadia diamante, lagartija de rombos.

Recognition: ♂♂ 19.5 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=7.0 cm. ♀♀ 19.1 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=6.9 cm..13 The Diamond Anadia (Anadia rhombifera) stands out from other lizards within its distribution range due to its smooth sub-hexagonal dorsal scales.13 The snout is slim and pointed, the dorsum is light tan, typically accompanied by a dark brown or blackish lateral stripe, and the belly is light cream without markings (Fig. 1).3,4 The tail is extremely long (~1.8–2.2 times the snout-vent-length)4,5 and has a characteristic pattern of rhomboid vertebral marks, especially in females.3 In Ecuador, the most similar species is A. buenaventura, found in southwestern Ecuador, and recognized by its light cream dorsolateral stripes.4

Figure showing a juvenile and an adult of Anadia rhombifera

Figure 1: Individuals of Anadia rhombifera from Balzapamba, Bolívar province, Ecuador.

Natural history: Anadia rhombifera is a rarely seen diurnal and arboreal lizard that inhabits evergreen forests in foothill or mountainous areas.2 The species also occurs in pastures with scattered trees, guava plantations, in rural houses, and in other semi-open areas near the forest.2 During sunny days, Diamond Anadias may be seen basking or moving with a characteristic swinging twig-like motion.2,6 Individuals spend most of their active time on thin branches, stems, tree trunks, and rooftops up to 11 m above the ground and probably higher, but they also descend to the ground.2,6,7 At night and during cloudy days, these lizards hide inside arboreal bromeliads or in the thatch of roofs.2,6 In captivity, individuals feed on spiders, beetles, grasshoppers, and moths.2 Gravid females containing 1–2 eggs have been found during the rainy season (December–May).2

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Conservation: Vulnerable Considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the mid-term future..8 Anadia rhombifera is proposed to be listed in this category, instead of Least Concern,9,10 because the species is considerably less widely-distributed than previously thought. Instead of occurring from northeastern Colombia to extreme southwestern Ecuador,9 the species is almost surely restricted to an area smaller than 20,000 km2 in west-central Ecuador. Moreover, ~65% of this area has already been converted to pastures and agricultural fields and each year it loses an additional 254 km2 of forest cover.11 The remaining populations are also severely fragmented and few localities (9 of 31; Appendix 1) are in protected areas.

Distribution: Anadia rhombifera is endemic to an estimated ~19,353 km2 area on the Chocoan lowlands and adjacent Andean foothills of west-central Ecuador (Fig. 2).

Distribution of Anadia rhombifera in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Anadia rhombifera in Ecuador. The star corresponds to the type locality: Pallatanga, Chimborazo province. See Appendix 1 for a complete list of the presence localities included in the map.

Etymology: The generic name Anadia does not appear to be a reference to any feature of this group of lizards, but a matter of personal taste. John Edward Gray usually selected girl’s names to use on reptiles.1215 The specific epithet rhombifera refers to the rhomboid markings on the tail of some individuals of this species, including the holotype.16

See it in the wild: Species of the genus Anadia are among the most rarely encountered lizards in Ecuador and A. rhombifera is no exception. Due to the species’ secretive and arboreal habits, individuals are encountered usually only by accident and no more than once every few months. The area with the greatest number of observations is Mindo, a valley and town in Pichincha province. In Mindo, Diamond Anadias are most often seen in rural gardens surrounded by lush vegetation and, especially, on trees having arboreal bromeliads. The lizards may be more easily located by scanning these trees during sunny mornings.

Special thanks to Billy Sveen for symbolically adopting the Diamond Anadia and helping bring the Reptiles of Ecuador book project to life.

Click here to adopt a species.

Acknowledgments: This account was published with the support of Secretaría Nacional de Educación Superior Ciencia y Tecnología (programa INEDITA; project: Respuestas a la crisis de biodiversidad: la descripción de especies como herramienta de conservación; No 00110378), Programa de las Naciones Unidas (PNUD), and Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ).

Author and photographer: Alejandro ArteagaaAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

Academic reviewer: Jeffrey D CamperbAffiliation: Department of Biology, Francis Marion University, Florence, USA.

How to cite? Arteaga A (2024) Diamond Anadia (Anadia rhombifera). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/KJSH1649

Literature cited:

  1. MECN (2010) Serie herpetofauna del Ecuador: El Chocó esmeraldeño. Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales, Quito, 232 pp.
  2. Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Guayasamin JM (2013) The amphibians and reptiles of Mindo. Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica, Quito, 257 pp.
  3. Oftedal OT (1974) A revision of the genus Anadia (Sauria, Teiidae). Arquivos de Zoologia 25: 203–265. DOI: 10.11606/issn.2176-7793.v25i4p203-265
  4. Betancourt R, Reyes-Puig C, Lobos SE, Yánez- Muñoz MH, Torres-Carvajal O (2018) Sistemática de los saurios Anadia Gray, 1845 (Squamata: Gymnophthalmidae) de Ecuador: límite de especies, distribución geográfica y descripción de una especie nueva. Neotropical Biodiversity 4: 82–101. DOI: 10.1080/23766808.2018.1487694
  5. Boulenger GA (1885) Catalogue of the lizards in the British Museum. Taylor & Francis, London, 497 pp.
  6. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  7. Ortega-Andrade HM, Bermingham J, Aulestia C, Paucar C (2010) Herpetofauna of the Bilsa Biological Station, province of Esmeraldas, Ecuador. Check List 6: 119–154. DOI: 10.15560/6.1.119
  8. Carrillo E, Aldás A, Altamirano M, Ayala F, Cisneros-Heredia DF, Endara A, Márquez C, Morales M, Nogales F, Salvador P, Torres ML, Valencia J, Villamarín F, Yánez-Muñoz M, Zárate P (2005) Lista roja de los reptiles del Ecuador. Fundación Novum Millenium, Quito, 46 pp.
  9. Caicedo J, Ines Hladki A, Ramírez Pinilla M, Renjifo J, Urbina N (2017) Anadia rhombifera. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T44578254A44578265.en
  10. Reyes-Puig C (2015) Un método integrativo para evaluar el estado de conservación de las especies y su aplicación a los reptiles del Ecuador. MSc thesis, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, 73 pp.
  11. MAE (2012) Línea base de deforestación del Ecuador continental. Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador, Quito, 30 pp.
  12. Gray JE (1831) Description of a new genus of ophisaurean animal, discovered by the late James Hunter in New Holland. Treuttel, Würtz & Co., London, 40 pp.
  13. Gray JE (1831) A synopsis of the species of the class Reptilia. In: Griffith E, Pidgeon E (Eds) The animal kingdom arranged in conformity with its organization. Whittaker, Treacher, & Co., London, 1–110.
  14. Gray JE (1838) Catalogue of the slender-tongued saurians, with descriptions of many new genera and species. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 1: 274–283.
  15. Gray JE (1845) Catalogue of the specimens of lizards in the collection of the British Museum. Trustees of the British Museum, London, 289 pp.
  16. Günther A (1858) Second list of cold-blooded vertebrata collected by Mr. Fraser in the Andes of western Ecuador. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1859: 402–422.

Appendix 1: Locality data used to create the distribution map of Anadia rhombifera in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used. Asterisk (*) indicates type locality.

EcuadorBolívarBalsapambaOftedal 1974
EcuadorBolívarBalsapamba, 3.3 km SE ofThis work
EcuadorBolívarMulidiaguánBetancourt et al. 2018
EcuadorCañarHidroeléctrica OcañaPhoto by Verónica Urgilés
EcuadorCarchiMaldonadoOnline multimedia
EcuadorChimborazoNaranjapataCAS 93920
EcuadorChimborazoPallatanga*Günther 1859
EcuadorCotopaxiEl Jardín de los SueñosPhoto by Christophe Pellet
EcuadorCotopaxiLas PampasBetancourt et al. 2018
EcuadorEsmeraldasBilsa Biological ReserveBetancourt et al. 2018
EcuadorEsmeraldasBilsa Biological StationOrtega-Andrade et al. 2010
EcuadorImbaburaJunín, 14.7 km NW ofiNaturalist
EcuadorLos RíosCentro Científico Río PalenqueUSNM 285469
EcuadorManabiBosque Seco Lalo LoorPhoto by Zach Cava
EcuadorManabíJama Coaque ReserveiNaturalist
EcuadorManabíLa CrespaiNaturalist
EcuadorManabíPacoche LodgeBetancourt et al. 2018
EcuadorManabíRefugio Casa MartínezBetancourt et al. 2018
EcuadorManabíThree Forests TrailPhoto by Ryan Lynch
EcuadorPichinchaHacienda San VicenteBetancourt et al. 2018
EcuadorPichinchaLas TolasYánez-Muñoz et al. 2009
EcuadorPichinchaMaquipucuna ReservePhoto by Arthur Moris
EcuadorPichinchaMashpi ReservePhoto by Carlos Morochz
EcuadorPichinchaMindo LagoThis work
EcuadorPichinchaRoad to MindoBetancourt et al. 2018
EcuadorPichinchaSéptimo Paraíso LodgeVideo by Shannon Christensen
EcuadorPichinchaTandapiMHNG 2239.100
EcuadorPichinchaTerrabambú LodgeThis work
EcuadorPichinchaUn Poco del ChocóiNaturalist
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasSanto Domingo de los ColoradosOftedal 1974
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasSanto Domingo de los Colorados, 2 km N ofMCZ 156888