Variability of pterygoid teeth in three species of Podarcis lizards and the utility of palatal dentition in lizard systematics

Tomasz Skawiński, Bartosz Borczyk, Edyta Turniak


Palatal dentition in lizards is incompletely known, especially data on its variability are scarce. We studied variation in the number of pterygoid teeth in three species of Podarcis, a species-rich genus of lacertid lizards: terrestrial, P. siculus and saxicolous, P. erhardii and P. cretensis. In contrast to some previous studies, we found no sexual dimorphism in the number of palatal teeth in any of these species. The number of teeth was not correlated to lizard size. In our sample, P. cretensis on average had more teeth than did P. erhardii but fewer than did P. siculus. In addition, some specimens of P. cretensis and P. siculus showed asymmetry in the number of pterygoid teeth, which may be a result of anthropogenic pressure. The observed variability in the occurrence of palatal dentition illustrates the importance of scoring this character in phylogenetic analyses only on the basis of a sufficient sample.


heterochrony; paedomorphosis; peramorphosis; cryptic species; morphology

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