The reduced limbed lizards of the genus Bachia (Reptilia, Squamata, Gymnophthalmidae); biogeography, cryptic diversity, and morphological convergence in the eastern Caribbean

  • John C. MurphyEmail author
  • Daniele Salvi
  • Joana L. Santos
  • Alvin L. Braswell
  • Stevland P. Charles
  • Amaél Borzée
  • Michael J. JowersEmail author
Original Article


The phylogenetic and systematic relationships of the reduced limbed lizards of the genus Bachia are poorly understood. Here, we investigate the eastern Caribbean Bachia assigned to the B. heteropa and B. flavescens groups, whose members are characterized by a band of hexagonal or quadrangular scales on the dorsum, respectively. The polytypic Bachia heteropa is redefined, and the previous subspecies in the Grenadines (Bachia heteropa alleni) and Trinidad (B. h. trinitatis) are demonstrated to be species-level lineages. One new species of hex-scaled Bachia was formerly assigned intergrade status between B. heteropa and Bachia trinitatis. Here, it is described as a new species from Caripito, Venezuela. Bachia h. heteropa, B. h. lineata, and B. h. marcelae are elevated to species status. The Tobago species formerly considered a member of the Bachia flavescens species group is described as a new species. In this paper, we increase the number of species in the genus Bachia from 25 to 31 with the description of two new species and the elevation of four previously described species from the synonymy of Bachia heteropa. This work will greatly improve the understanding of the systematics and evolution of Bachia in the eastern Caribbean.


Cryptozoic Dispersal Fossorial Grenada Trinidad Venezuela 



Our sincerest thanks go to Alan Resetar at the Field Museum (FMNH); Jonathan B. Losos, Josè Rosado, and Tsuyoshi Takahashi at the Museum Comparative Zoology (MCZ); Bryan Stuart and Jeff Beane at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science (NCSM); Frank Burbrink, Chris Raxworthy and David Kizirian at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH); Jens Vindum at the California Academy of Sciences (CAS); Richard Glor at the University of Kansas (KU); Greg Schneider at the University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology (UMMZ); Kevin de Queiroz and Jeremy F. Jacobs at the Smithsonian Institution (USNM); and Mike G. Rutherford at the University of the West Indies (UWIZM) for providing logistical support, access to the museum’s collections, and the loan of specimens. We would also like to thank Harold K. Voris, Laurie J. Vitt, and Robert Thomas for commenting on the manuscript.

Funding information

DS is currently supported by the program ‘Rita Levi Montalcini’ for the recruitment of young researchers at the University of L’Aquila. MJJ work was supported by the International Collaborative Research Grant, National Institute of Ecology, South Korea.

Supplementary material

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© Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Science and EducationField Museum of Natural HistoryChicagoUSA
  2. 2.CIBIO/InBIO (Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos)Universidade do PortoVairãoPortugal
  3. 3.Department of HealthLife and Environmental Sciences-University of L’AquilaL’AquilaItaly
  4. 4.North Carolina State Museum of Natural SciencesRaleighUSA
  5. 5.Department of BiologyHoward UniversityWashingtonUSA
  6. 6.Laboratory of Behavioral Ecology and Evolution, School of Biological SciencesSeoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  7. 7.Laboratory of Animal Communication, Division of EcoScienceEwha Womans UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  8. 8.National Institute of EcologySeocheon-gunSouth Korea

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