Friday, March 29, 2013

Roux's Forest Calotes

Description, behavior, feeding and habitat

     Roux's Forest Calotes or Roux's Forest Lizard (Calotes rouxii) is an agamid lizard found in the Western Ghats of IndiaTwo small groups of spines, separated from each other, on each side of the neck. A fold in front of the shoulder. Tail compressed into a sharpish edge at its base, covered superiorly with very large pentagonal scales. Scales on the sides of the body nearly as large as those on the belly. Tail below with four longitudinal series of rhomboid, strongly keeled scales, each terminating in a point posteriorly. Brownish, uniform or spotted with black. The exact locality when this species has been obtained is not known, nor has the species ever been identified by more recent observers. 

     Jerdon enumerates a C. rouxii in his list of the Reptiles of Southern India (Journ. As. Soc. Beng. xxii. p. 471); having seen a rough figure of this species in the collection of drawings in the possession of W. Elliott, Esq., I have come to the conclusion that this must be an undescribed species, having a pair of isolated spines immediately behind the orbit and a black fold of the skin before each shoulder. The male is represented as uniform blackish brown, with yellow head and neck; the female brown, with irregular dark cross bands. I propose for this species the name of C. elliotti. Mr. Blyth also has a C. rouxi from Birma and Ceylon; but this determination is as incorrect as that by Mr. Jerdon, the lizard in question having a row of three or four spines above the tympanum (see C. nigrilabris).

     Length of head one and a half times its breadth; snout a little longer than the orbit; forehead concave; cheeks swollen in the adult male: upper head-scales unequal, strongly keeled; canthus rostralis and supraciliary edge sharp; two small separated spines on the back of the head, the anterior mid-way between the nuchal crest and the tympanum, the posterior just above the ears; diameter of the tympanum half that of the orbit; 9 or 10 upper and as many lower labials. Dorsal scales keeled, the upper rows pointing backwards and upwards, the lower backwards and downwards, about as large as the ventrals, which are strongly keeled and mucronate; 50 to 60 scales round the middle of the body: gular sacvery small, absent in the female, gular scales smaller than the ventrals; a long, oblique, curved fold in front of the shoulder extending nearly across the throat, covered with small granular scales. Nuchal crest composed of a few slender erect spines, the longest of which is half the diameter of the orbit; dorsal crest a mere denticulation; in the female it is absent. Limbs moderate, slender; fourth finger a little longer than third; fourth toe distinctly longer than third: the hind limb reaches to the temple. Tail feebly compressed; in the fully grown male it is considerably swollen at the base, the scales which cover that part being enlarged and thickened, the median row above largest and forming a serrated ridge. Olive-brown above, the top of the head and vertebral region rather light; a dark band along the side of the head on to the neck; ante-humeral fold black; dark lines radiating from the eye; below light brownish. In life the upper part of the head, nape, and gular pouch may be brick-red.

     This beautifully camouflaged lizard started slightly moving upwards, as it saw us approaching near it. A Great spotting by my friends Mr.Ajith Kamath & Mr.Ranganath Bhat, which helped me to identify it from the tree. I was literally stunned to see the camouflage it had on its skin, rightly matching the tree skin. This was another gift of nature for not getting priced catches in our birding trips and I was more than happy that I found Forest calotes and a handsome varieties of dragonflies, which aren't yet identified in the world. I have published an article on one such dragonfly "Long Legged Marsh Glider", which hasn't been noted in Wikipedia, thereby giving me a chance to present this dragonfly to the world.

     As usual, i was hand-holding my favourite combination of Canon EOS 7D SLR with Canon EF 300mm F4L IS USM lens, with a Tamron 1.4x Extender. It was a difficult shoot inside the dense forests of Someshwara, where we observed this beautiful phenomenon, the lights penetrating the forest is too little and is slightly difficult for our cameras to focus, but still we have managed to capture these many full frame images, with almost no cropping. I thank my friends for organizing this forest birding and wildlife activity, which brought us close to lizards, dragonflies and rare forest birds

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