Ah taxonomy…thou art a beautiful and heartless bitch. If you’ve ever looked into the tropidurus genus post 1979, you know what I’m talking about!
It’s not uncommon for friends and family to send or show me photographs of reptiles and amphibians they encounter during their holidays. They often ask me to identify the species, and usually, this can be done fairly easily - especially when you know exactly where the individual was found. However, some species can be very hard to differentiate by image and location alone.
My brother found the individual displayed in the above photograph in Rio de Janeiro a few years ago. Truthfully, I had never paid much attention to this genus before, and figuring out the species became even more complicated the more I looked into it. As Frost, et al. (2001, pp.352) very eloquently put in their publication, “from 1979 to present (…) effort on the elucidation of the systematics of the taxon has increased, seemingly exponentially”. In his 1987 paper, Rodrigues gives us a brief history of the genus and the species that were once recognised under it. Boulenger (1885) was the first attempt at revising the then established norm that the genus encompassed about 15 different species but Boulenger maintained only 3 species from the fifteen - Tropidurus hygomi, Tropidurus torquatus and Tropidurus hispidus.Read More