A lizard unique in the world

A Podarcis latastei in Zannone (photo: Ferdinando Corbi)

25 November 2019

Few days ago, "Sapienza" University of Rome  announced that lizards in the western Pontine archipelago, which were classified as  Podarcis siculus, should now be assigned to a different species, Podarcis latastei (https://www.uniroma1.it/en/notizia/new-lizard-discovered-pontine-islands).

This is the result of phylogenetic and morphological analyses carried out by researchers from the Department of Biology and Biotechnology of Sapienza University (Rome), in collaboration with colleagues from "La Specola" Museum in Florence, from the National Research Council, from the Alexander Koenig Museum in Bonn and from Potsdam University.

Analysis on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA showed that peninsular lizards colonised the Pontine islands at least 2 million years ago but differentiated into a new species because of geographical isolation. Colour and head scales also differ between the insular and peninsular individuals.

Podarcis latastei is exclusive to Ponza, Palmarola, Gavi and Zannone, and very important for conservation. Endemic insular populations are especially sensitive to the impact of human activities and prone to extinction, as recorded from various Mediterranean islands. Here at Life PonDerat, we think that rat eradication from Palmarola will surely benefit their conservation.

So, we want celebrate Podarcis latastei with a series of pictures taken over the years, during fieldwork. Let’s admire these special lizards! 

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