Published September 26, 2021. Open access.

Gallery ❯

Green-striped Sticklizard (Pholidobolus samek)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Gymnophthalmidae | Pholidobolus | Pholidobolus samek

English common name: Green-striped Sticklizard.

Spanish common names: Cuilanpalo de franjas verdes, cuilán de franjas verdes.

Recognition: ♂♂ 12.7 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=4.6 cm. ♀♀ 11.3 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=4.5 cm..1,2 Sticklizards differ from other lizards by having short but well-developed limbs, overlapping striated sub-hexagonal dorsal scales, a brownish dorsal pattern with longitudinal stripes, and no prefrontal scales.3,4 The presence of six-sided finely wrinkled dorsal scales distinguishes Pholidobolus from other co-occurring small brownish lizards such as those in the genera Alopoglossus, Anadia, Andinosaura, Macropholidus, and Riama.5 The Green-striped Sticklizard (P. samek) is the only species of sticklizard known in its range of distribution and is easily differentiated by having green dorsolateral stripes on the head.1 Males of P. samek differ from females by having a broader head and a slightly more intense coloration.

Figure showing variation among individuals of Pholidobolus samek

Figure 1: Individuals of Pholidobolus samek from Yacuri National Park, Zamora Chinchipe province, Ecuador.

Natural history: RareTotal average number of reported observations per locality less than ten. at the type locality, but frequentRecorded weekly in densities below five individuals per locality. in a new locality in Yacuri National Park. Pholidobolus samek inhabits pristine to moderately disturbed cloud forests as well as roadcuts passing through these ecosystems.1,2 At the type locality, Cerro Plateado Biological Reserve, Green-striped Sticklizards were active between 11:30 am and 5:00 pm under rocks or ground bromeliads.1 The ground at the plateau of Cerro Plateado is covered with mosses, roots, and bromeliads.1 Four eggs, presumably from different clutches, were collected in September,1 which suggest females of this species might use communal nesting sites. At a new locality in Yacuri National Park, one nest found in July contained 26 eggs.2 The adult lizards in this locality were found hidden under rocks during a cloudy day.2

Reader support helps us keep the Reptiles of Ecuador book 100% free.

Conservation: Critically Endangered Considered to be facing imminent risk of extinction..1 Pholidobolus samek has been proposed to be included in this threat category because the species’ known range is extremely narrow and large-scale habitat fragmentation and destruction is evident just a few kilometers of the type locality.1 Although one population is currently within the limits of the Cerro Plateado Biological Reserve and the other in Yacuri National Park, small and large-scale mining activities are a threat that could extirpate both populations.1

Distribution: Pholidobolus samek is endemic to the Amazonian slopes of the Andes in Zamora Chinchipe province, southeastern Ecuador.1 Although a new locality record (Appendix 1) is presented here, genetic analyses will ultimately confirm if lizards from the new area actually belong to P. samek. The species has been recorded at elevations between 2320 and 2873 m (Fig. 2).

Distribution of Pholidobolus samek in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Pholidobolus samek in Ecuador. The star corresponds to the type locality: Cerro Plateado Biological Reserve. See Appendix 1 for a complete list of the presence localities included in the map.

Etymology: The generic name Pholidobolus, which comes from the Greek words pholidos (meaning “scale”) and bolos (meaning “lump”),6 probably refers to the imbricated or mounted scales that are characteristic of the genus. The specific epithet samek means “green” in the Shuar language. It refers to the green dorsolateral head stripes.1

See it in the wild: Pholidobolus samek is a rare species that was, until recently, known only from its type locality, where only one adult male, two adult females, and four eggs were found despite days of intense fieldwork. At the new locality in Yacuri National Park, individuals were easy to find under rocks along a dirt road.

Author: Amanda QuezadaaAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,bAffiliation: Laboratorio de Herpetología, Universidad del Azuay, Cuenca, Ecuador.

Editor: Alejandro ArteagaaAffiliation: Biodiversity Field Lab, Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

Photographer: Jose VieiraaAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,cAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Quezada A (2021) Green-striped Sticklizard (Pholidobolus samek). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J, Guayasamin JM (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/TNKI2703

Literature cited:

  1. Parra V, Sales Nunes PM, Torres-Carvajal O (2020) Systematics of Pholidobolus lizards (Squamata, Gymnophthalmidae) from southern Ecuador, with descriptions of four new species. ZooKeys 954: 109–156. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.954.50667
  2. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  3. Montanucci RR (1973) Systematics and evolution of the Andean Lizard genus Pholidobolus (Sauria: Teiidae). Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas 59: 1–52.
  4. Torres-Carvajal O, Venegas P, Lobos SE, Mafla-Endara P, Sales Nunes PM (2014) A new species of Pholidobolus (Squamata: Gymnophthalmidae) from the Andes of southern Ecuador. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 8: 76–88.
  5. Peters JA, Donoso-Barros R (1970) Catalogue of the Neotropical Squamata: part II, lizards and amphisbaenians. Bulletin of the United States National Museum, Washington, D.C., 293 pp.
  6. Brown RW (1956) Composition of scientific words. Smithsonian Books, Washington D.C., 882 pp.

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

EcuadorZamora ChinchipeCerro Plateado Biological Reserve*Parra et al. 2020
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeYacuri National ParkThis work