Cnemidophorus neomexicanus-Cnemidophorus perplexus nomenclatural problem (Sauria: Teiidae) and its resolution

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For the past 44 yr, populations of the parthenogenetic New Mexico whiptail lizard have been allocated to either Cnemidophorus perplexus Baird and Girard 1852 or Cnemidophorus neomexicanus Lowe and Zweifel 1952. The latter name has been in general use for the past 30 yr based on an opinion that the lectotype of C. perplexus, United States National Museum (USNM) 3060, was a triploid hybrid derived from insemination of a normally parthenogenetic individual of C. neomexicanus by a male of C. inornatus. Questions concerning the genealogy of the lectotype have recently resurfaced. Therefore, we used canonical variate (CVA) and principal components analyses (PCA) of nine meristic characters and snout-vent length to test the hypothesis that the lectotype of C. perplexus is a hybrid. Because C. neomexicanus and C. inornatus are sympatric at the type locality of the former, this also provided an opportunity to verify that the type of C. neomexicanus is not a hybrid. Our reference material included two sets of geographically paired samples of the presumptive parental species, C. neomexicanus (n = 77) and C. inornatus (n = 105) from the vicinity of the restricted type locality of C. perplexus. Of 23 specimens presumed from morphological features to be C. neomexicanus x C. inornatus hybrids, 13 that were syntopic with one of the reference sets were used as our hybrid reference group. The type specimens of C. perplexus and C. neomexicanus were included in the CVA as unknowns for assignment to the hybrid group or taxon with which each shared the greatest multivariate similarity. The CVA assigned the holotype of C. neomexicanus to C. neomexicanus (Set 1: P = 0.642; Set 2: P = 0.358), and the lectotype of C. perplexus was assigned to C. neomexicanus as well (Set 2: P = 0.789; Set 1: P = 0.211). Projections of scores for both types in a principal components analysis of all specimens supported both assignments. In addition, the color pattern of the lectotype resembles C. neomexicanus and none of the 23 hybrids, and meristic scores of the lectotype are within the range limits of our reference samples of C. neomexicanus. Our analyses indicate that the lectotype of C. perplexus was misidentified as a hybrid by previous workers. However, there are two compelling reasons why we shall petition the ICZN to suppress perplexus as an available name for a species of Cnemidophorus: (1) ambiguity concerning the type locality; and (2) controversy as to whether the name C. perplexus should be associated with specimen USNM 3060. Approval of the petition will bring the issue to closure and extend the 30-yr use of the name C. neomexicanus for the New Mexico whiptail.

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