Salea is a genus of arboreal, slow-moving, diurnal, insectivorous, egg-laying agamid lizards endemic to the Western Ghats of South India. It has two species, each inhabiting very high mountainous tracts of the Western Ghats in the Shola forest ecosystems.
Scientific classification :
2 species (see text)
Natural History :
These lizards rely on their camouflage to escape from predators and to stalk prey. When detected or approached, many turn around twigs or freeze motionlessly to evade notice.
Albert Günther, in his treatise "The Reptiles of British India", described Salea as follows:
The tympanum naked. Back and sides covered with strongly keeled scales of moderate size; several larger scales are intermixed with the others on the side; the scales form longitudinal series, and their tips arc directed backwards; bead without any spines. A crest on the back; gular sac: none. Tail slightly compressed at the base, with keeled scales below, which arc
almost as broad as long. The head is tetrahedral, covered with small irregular shields above, which are nearly as large as the labials. Nostrils lateral, in the hinder part of a small shield. Canthus rostralis is very distinct; superciliary edge not prominent; eye of moderate size; tympanum as large as the eye. The trunk is slightly compressed, and covered with scales of moderate size which are sharply keeled and acutely pointed, the keels forming continuous longitudinal lines; the ventral and gular scales are similar in shape and size to those on the sides. There arc three larger scales, separate from one another, and placed in the same longitudinal line somewhat below the middle of the sides. Throat without pouch or fold; dorsal crest more or less developed. Tail long, tapering, slightly compressed at the base, uniformly covered with rhombic keeled scales, those at its lower side having very strong keels. The limbs are well developed; the fourth hind toe is not much longer than the third.
There are only two confirmed species of Salea.
Salea anamallayana (Beddome, 1878) – Anaimalai spiny lizard found in Upper Palni Hills and Anaimalai.
Salea horsfieldii Gray, 1845 – Horsfield's spiny lizard found in Upper Nilgiri Hills.
The Palakkad Gap is believed to have played a significant role in causing speciation of these lizards on these mountain tops.
A doubtful 'third' taxon Salea gularis is often associated with this genus.
1- Salea anamallayana
The Anaimalai spiny lizard or Anaimalais salea (Salea anamallayana) is a species of agamid lizard endemic to the southern Western Ghats, India. Specifically, it is found on the Anaimalai Hills (its type locality) and Meghamalai in the Kerala and Tamil Nadu states.
Anaimalai spiny lizard
Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
Binomial name :
Lophosalea anamallayanaBeddome, 1878
The snout long and pointed is about twice as long as the diameter of the eye. The ear opening is 1.6 times the diameter of the eye. The scales on the top of the head are large with a curved series of large scales bordering the region above the eye. An enlarged turbercle is present behind the edge of the brow ridge and a few on the back of the head. A row of 3 or four large scales is present from the eye to above the ear opening. The scales of the chin are larger than the ventral and can be smooth or keeled. A curved fold on each side of the neck, in front of the shoulders is well marked and the crest on top of the back of the head is made up large lance like spines of unequal size. The scales on the underside are imbricate and keeled and end in a spine. The hind legs are long and when held along the body they reach until the nick. The tail is compressed with a crest on the anterior part. The scales on the underside of the tail are unequal, keeled and pale olive. There are usually four broad angular bands on the back which are dark brown. The head to lip is dark brown with light spots.
From snout to vent the adult is about 4.3 inches long.
Illustration accompanying the original description of 1878
Salea anamallayana occurs in moist montane forests, and also on bushes, hedges and in gardens. On the Anaimalai Hills it is common in montane shola forests and tea plantations. It lives at relatively high altitudes, 1,700–2,300 m (5,600–7,500 ft) asl.
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Salei (Salea anamallayana) :
courtesy to : agama.su/salea-anamallayana/
Are found in the mountainous regions of India (Anaymalayskie hills Palni hills), rises to a height of 2100 meters above sea level.
The species is named for the title area in India, the relevant habitat types of Agam (~ 2000 meters above sea level).
2- Salea horsfieldii
Salea horsfieldii, commonly known as Horsfield's spiny lizard or the Nilgiri salea, is a species of agamid, which is endemic to the Nilgiri Hills of India. It is found mainly in the high altitude grassy hills. A related species, Salea anamallayana, is found in the grassy hills of the Anaimalai Hills.
Side view of the head
Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
Species: S. horsfieldii
The specific name, horsfieldii, is in honor of American naturalist Thomas Horsfield.
This olive brown to green lizard with a white banded appearance has a snout that is about 1.5 times as long as the eye diameter which is about twice the diameter of the ear opening. The scales on the head are large and rough. Some scales around the brow above the eye are curved. A row of three or four large scales are found between the eye and the ear opening. The scales on the throat are lanceolate, keeled and sharp tipped. The male has crest on the back of the neck made up of a few lanceolate spines facing backwards.
The dorsal crest continues after a break behind the nuchal crest. The scales on the upper surface are large, rhomboidal, strongly keeled, pointing straight backwards; these are nearly always of unequal size, larger ones being scattered on the sides; ventral scales very strongly imbricate, strongly keeled and ending in a spine, nearly as large as the dorsals. Limbs are somewhat long and when the hind limb is held along the body, the toes reach between the shoulder and ear opening. The tails is compressed and in the male has a small crest and is crestless in the female. The caudal scales are sub-equal and strongly keeled.
The colour is pale olive above but varies from green to brown, with irregular dark-brown cross bands, often broken up by a band of the light-brown colour running along the sides of the back. The larger scales on the sides are frequently white and a blackish band edged below in white extends from the eye, through the tympanum, to the foreleg. The tail is banded with regular dark brown and creamy bands. The length from snout to vent is about 3.75 inches and the tail measures 9.75.
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