The Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change

is a research museum of the Leibniz Association

Diversity of Neotropical Bush Anoles



Quick facts

Project title: 
Evolutionary history of Neotropical false chameleons (Polychrotidae: Polychrus)
ZFMK Project lead: 
Object of research: 


Neotropical monkey lizards (Polychrus) are arboreal lizards with compressed bodies, partially fused eyelids and strikingly long, whip-like tails. The eight currently recognized species occur in the lowlands of South and Central America. Based on the largest taxon and character sampling to date, we analyze three mitochondrial and one nuclear gene using Bayesian methods to (1) infer the phylogeny of Polychrus under both concatenated-tree and speciestree methods; (2) identify lineages that could represent putative undescribed species; and (3) estimate divergence times. Our species tree places P. acutirostris as the sister taxon to all other species of Polychrus. While the phylogenetic position of P. gutturosus and P. peruvianus is poorly resolved, P. marmoratus and P. femoralis are strongly supported as sister to P. liogaster and P. jacquelinae, respectively. Recognition of P. auduboni and P. marmoratus sensu stricto as distinct species indicates that the populations of "P. marmoratus" from the Amazon and the Atlantic coast in Brazil represent separate species. Similarly, populations of P. femoralis from the Tumbes region might belong to a cryptic undescribed species. Relative divergence times and published age estimates suggest that the orogeny of the Andes did not play a significant role in the early evolution of Polychrus.


Contact person

Curator Herpetology
Radiation Protection Officer
Head of Animal Husbandry
+49 228 9122-234
+49 228 9122-212
c.koch [at]