In June 2012 we went on a field expedition to México to collect horned lizards for a new phylogeny project. There aren’t that many species of horned lizards (16 species), and we were trying to get fresh tissue samples from all of them for genome sequencing. These lizards are exceptionally difficult to find – they’re amazingly camouflaged, and they don’t even move when you walk by them. We failed to find any horned lizards during our 2011 trip to México, but 2012 was different. We had some real horned lizard experts on the team: Wade Sherbrooke (he wrote the book on horned lizards), Adrián Nieto Montes de Oca, and Rafael Lara. The trip was a real success, and we found everything that we were looking for and more. Jared Grummer published a story about the trip on the Burke Museum Blog: Cloudy with a chance of lizards.
One important piece of information left out of Jared’s story is our discovery of a new species. The new species occurs in the state of Guerrero, in the mountains to the east of Chilpancingo. The last discovery of a new Phrynosoma was in 1906 (P. ditmarsi), and although we’ve seen plenty of taxonomic reshuffling in horned lizards over the past 108 years, the probability of discovering a new one seemed slim to none. The new species is named Phrynosoma sherbrookei in recognition of Wade Sherbrooke for all of his contributions to horned lizard biology.
Our paper describing the new species is published in Herpetologica. There might be a few stories posted about the new species, and we already found a photo of it posted at Science.
Nieto-Montes de Oca, A., D. Arenas-Moreno, E. Beltrán-Sánchez, and A. D. Leaché. 2014.
A new species of horned lizard (Genus Phrynosoma) from Guerrero, México, with an updated multilocus phylogeny. Herpetologica, 70(2):241–257.