Plica caribeana

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This page should be cited as follows (rationale):
Murphy J, Jowers M (2013) Treerunners, cryptic lizards of the Plica plica group (Squamata, Sauria, Tropiduridae) of northern South America. ZooKeys 355 : 49–77, doi. Versioned wiki page: 2013-11-25, version 40002, , contributors (alphabetical order): Pensoft Publishers.

Citation formats to copy and paste


author = {Murphy, John C. AND Jowers, Michael J.},
journal = {ZooKeys},
publisher = {Pensoft Publishers},
title = {Treerunners, cryptic lizards of the Plica plica group (Squamata, Sauria, Tropiduridae) of northern South America},
year = {2013},
volume = {355},
issue = {},
pages = {49--77},
doi = {10.3897/zookeys.355.5868},
url = {},
note = {Versioned wiki page: 2013-11-25, version 40002, , contributors (alphabetical order): Pensoft Publishers.}


RIS/ Endnote:

T1 - Treerunners, cryptic lizards of the Plica plica group (Squamata, Sauria, Tropiduridae) of northern South America
A1 - Murphy J
A1 - Jowers M
Y1 - 2013
JF - ZooKeys
JA -
VL - 355
IS -
UR -
SP - 49
EP - 77
PB - Pensoft Publishers
M1 - Versioned wiki page: 2013-11-25, version 40002, , contributors (alphabetical order): Pensoft Publishers.

M3 - doi:10.3897/zookeys.355.5868

Wikipedia/ Citizendium:

<ref name="Murphy2013ZooKeys355">{{Citation
| author = Murphy J, Jowers M
| title = Treerunners, cryptic lizards of the Plica plica group (Squamata, Sauria, Tropiduridae) of northern South America
| journal = ZooKeys
| year = 2013
| volume = 355
| issue =
| pages = 49--77
| pmid =
| publisher = Pensoft Publishers
| doi = 10.3897/zookeys.355.5868
| url =
| pmc =
| accessdate = 2022-01-28

}} Versioned wiki page: 2013-11-25, version 40002, , contributors (alphabetical order): Pensoft Publishers.</ref>

See also the citation download page at the journal.


Ordo: Squamata
Familia: Tropiduridae
Genus: Plica


Plica caribeana Murphy & Jowers, 2013 sp. n.Wikispecies linkZooBank linkPensoft Profile


FMNH 49838, an adult female, 110 mm SVL, 172 mm tail. Collected in 1947 by Frank Wonder, the Republic ofTrinidad & Tobago, Trinidad: San Rafael (~10°34'N, 61°16'W).

Other material

Trinidad: Brickfield (~10°20'N, 61°16'W) 49834–35; Maracas (~10°45'N, 61°25'W) MCZ 60826; Mt. Harris (~10°30'N, 61°06'W) FMNH 49836; Nariva MCZ 60825; St. Annes MCZ 9002; San Rafael (~10°34'N, 61°16'W) FMNH 49837; Tucker Valley (~10°42'N, 61°36'W) FMNH 40448; no specific locality FMNH 25014; Cuesa River, Chagaramas (~10°43.319N, 61°38.6'W) UWIZM 2012.27.56. Venezuela: Sucre, Guaranunos (~10°32'N, 63°06'W) KU16749798, 167500–3; Cumana, Muchorapo (~10°27'N, 64°10'W), KU117088. Sucre, Chacaracual (~9°51'N, 63°42'W) MCZ 43861–65, 81186–89; Monagas: MCZ 88185.


A Plica with dorsal scales in 92–125 (usually 110–125) rows at mid-body; scales on snout imbricate and keeled; dorsolateral and ventrolateral folds well developed; head length 21–22% of the SVL; one longitudinal dewlap fold; and a dorsal pattern of black and green transverse bands. Plica plica has 126–140 dorsal scale rows at mid body and two longitudinal dewlap folds. The middle Orinoco species, Plica rayi sp. n. has 180–202 scale rows at mid-body; flat, juxtaposed scales on the snout; and the ventrolateral fold is weakly spinose. The Sierra Acarai Mountain's (Guyana) Plica kathleenae sp. n. has 158 scale rows around mid-body; head 29% of SVL; and lacks gular mite pockets (all other species have them). The species from southern Meta, Colombia Plica medemi sp. n., has 145 scale rows at mid-body, and a dorsal pattern of six rows of small, bold, dark, irregular spots. The two species, associated with the Venezuelan tepuis (Plica lumaria and Plica pansticta) have a higher number of scale rows at mid-body (141–164) and smooth scales on the snout.

Description of holotype

Rostral band-like (much wider than tall), contacts five post-rostral scales; nasals positioned over first labial, separated from upper labials by 1–2 scales, separated from each other by six scales; scales on snout imbricate, keeled, in regular rows, with asperities; loreals in seven rows (some keeled); canthals single, contacts three loreals, separated by eight inter-canthals scales; circumorbital scales 11/12, keeled, smaller posteriorly; separated from occipitoparietal by small scales; occipitoparietal broader than long; subocular plates 5/5, with serrated keel; upper labials 5/5, fifth is longest; supraciliaries in three layers, eight scales per layer; auditory meatus has a cluster of spiny scales on anterior margin, none on posterior margin, ventral fold has a cluster of spiny scales; two tufts of spines on neck, anterior tuft largest; antegular and gular folds complete, dewlap fold originates from the antegular fold; four mite pockets present, two under each fold; mental rounded, contacts four postmentals; lower labials 6/6; scales on throat small, quadrangular and smooth; dorsal crest well developed onto tail; dorsolateral fold well developed to thigh; ventrolateral fold present along length of body; scales around mid-body 125; ventrals 53; dorsal surfaces of limbs covered with mucronate scales, ventral surfaces covered with larger, smooth scales; fourth finger with 29 lamellae; fourth toe with 32 lamellae; feet 37% of SVL; tail depressed at base, cylindrical distally.
In alcohol, a uniform brown gray dorsum; tail with alternating, indistinct dark and pale bands; forearms and lower legs also with indistinct bands; chin spotted, black gular center; venter of body and tail cream.


Rostral makes contact with five or six post-rostral scales; nasals separated from each other by 5–7 scales; canthal single or double, in contact with 2–4 loreals, separated by 6–8 inter-canthal scales; circumorbital scales 11 or 12 in Trinidad and northern Venezuelan populations, 8 to 10 in Bolivar, Venezuela populations; upper labials usually four, rarely five; loreal region has 6 –9 rows of weakly keeled loreals between canthal and upper labials; suboculars usually five, rarely six; lower labials 5–6, bordered by 3–5 rows of slightly enlarged scales; dorsal scales in 92–125 rows around mid-body (usually 110–125); dorsal crest well developed in males, less so in females.
Color in life (Fig. 7), head mostly green with black markings on supraciliaries, a black postorbital stripe and indistinct black bars on labials; dorsum mostly green with 4–6 transverse brown bands; vertebral crest mostly black but interrupted with green between the brown bands; limbs and feet with alternating green and brown bands; tail with alternating black and green bands; ventral surface mostly uniform white with brown mottling. Body and tail sizes. Female’s SVL 105–121 mm (n=6, x=98.8. SD=18.22); undamaged tails 132–205 mm (n=5, x=170.6, SD=33.83). Male’s SVL 81–121(n=12, x=104.17, SD=12.04); undamaged tails (n=7) 132–205 mm (x-=170.6, SD= 32.63). Hind feet average about 39% of the SVL.


Named for its Caribbean Coastal Range distribution.


Eastern Coastal Range (Cordillera de la Costa Oriental) of Venezuela south into Bolivar; Trinidad, the Bocas Islands (Huevos, Monos, and Gaspar Grande); Tobago (Murphy and Downie 2012[5]).


Plica caribeana is a forest and forest-edge species most frequently observed on tree-trunks, rock walls, walls of caves, and buildings. They often occur in small colonies of 6–15 individuals, usually positioned with head downward, but slightly raised off the substrate. They are ambush insectivores feeding on ant columns, beetles, cicadas, spiders, and other arthropods. Females are reported to lay clutches of two eggs; the smallest juvenile measured for this study was 47 mm SVL with a damaged tail; this species is known to be preyed upon by the snake Siphlophis compressus (Boos 1977[6]; Murphy 1997[7]). Note that Beebe’s (1944)[8] comments on Plica plica may be partially applicable to this species.

Original Description

  • Murphy, J; Jowers, M; 2013: Treerunners, cryptic lizards of the Plica plica group (Squamata, Sauria, Tropiduridae) of northern South America ZooKeys, 355: 49-77. doi

Other References

  1. Court J (1858) Catalogue of Reptiles. In: DeVerteuil L (Ed) Trinidad: Its Geography, Natural Resources, Administration, Present Condition, and Prospects. Ward and Lock, London, 440-441.
  2. Boulenger G (1885) Catalogue of the lizards in the British Museum (Natural History). Vol. 2, Second edition. London, 497 pp.
  3. Burt C, Burt M (1931) South American lizards in the collection of the American Museum of Natural History. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 61: 227-395.
  4. Frost D (1992) Phylogenetic analysis and taxonomy of the Tropidurus group of lizards (Iguania: Tropiduridae). American Museum Novitates (3033) 1–68.
  5. Murphy J, Downie J (2012) The changing Trinidad and Tobago herpetofauna. Living World, Journal of the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club 2012: 87-95.
  6. Boos H (1977) Iguanas (Part 1). Trinidad Naturalist 1(10): 32–35, 37.
  7. Murphy J (1997) Amphibians and reptiles of Trinidad and Tobago. Krieger Publishing Co., Malabar, 245 pp.
  8. Beebe W (1944) Field notes on the lizards of Kartabo, British Guiana and Caripito, Venezuela. Part 2. Iguanidae. Zoologica 29: 195-216.