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Desert Monitor Lizards (Squamata: Varanidae: Varanus: Psammosaurus) from the Middle East: Further Records of Nesterov’s Desert Monitor, Varanus (P.) nesterovi Böhme, Ehrlich, Milto, Orlov et Scholz, 2015, from Iraq, and Adjacent Localities of Varanus (P.) g. griseus (Daudin, 1803) and Varanus (P.) g. caspius (Eichwald, 1831), with Comments on Biogeography and Taxonomy

Wolfgang Böhme, Soran H. Ahmed, Omar F. Al-Sheikhly, Korsh Ararat, Markus Auer, Farhad A. Khudur, Christian Langner


We report on numerous additional records and observations of Varanus nesterovi Böhme et al., 2015, and its chorological relationships (parapatry vs. sympatry) to its close relatives, viz. V. griseus griseus and V. g. caspius. The new distributional data and locality records do not only hint on various threats for V. nesterovi, but document also its parapatry with griseus along a line from east of Mosul to east of Kirkuk, and with caspius near Shiraz. This chorological pattern of V. nesterovi‘s distribution range wedged between the ranges of the taxa griseus and caspius argues, next to morphological and molecular genetic grounds, strongly for full species status of the three taxa involved. We discuss a theoretically possible but questionable occurrence of V. caspius in Europe (south of Baku, Azerbajdzhan) in the framework of fossil varanids from European sites and we comment on the type locality of Psammosaurus caspius Eichwald, 1831.


Varanus griseus group; Middle East and Central Asian distribution; biogeography; elevation of taxonomic rank; conservation

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