Inter- and intraspecific variation in the post-natal skull of some lacertid lizards



Intra- and interspecific variation are analysed for the post-natal skull of the lacertid lizards Gallotia galloti, Acanthodactylus erythrurus, Algyroides marchi, Lacerta monticola, Lacerta vivipara, Podarcis bocagei, Podarcis hispanica, Podarcis muralis, Psammodromus algirus and Psammodromus hispanicus. Individual variations identified include: the presence/absence, number and morphology of some structures, mainly in the lacrimal, sclerotic ossicles and maxilla; the number and location of foramina and the degree of ossification of some processes in chondrocranial bones. No differences have been found between the sexes with respect to presence and morphology of the bones but some species show sexual dimorphism in the size and robustness of the head and this may be reflected in the individual. The most substantial variations seen are ontogenetic: the appearance of new traits; development of articulations; differences between species in the timing of the stages of development of a given structure; changes in the relative position of some cranial elements; and the degree of calcification or ossification of processes. A total of 63 characters showing interspecific variations are identified. Some have not previously been described while others used in previous studies are redefined here on the basis of new morphological information obtained.