The Saudi fringe-fingered lizard (Acanthodactylus gongorhynchatus) has remarkable ‘fringes’ of elongated scales on each toe, and a long, fragile tail, enabling the lizard to move easily across the loose, shifting surface of sandy deserts. A small to medium sized reptile, the Saudi fringe-fingered lizard has a long, cylindrical body, with well-defined rows of smooth, rectangular scales on the belly (2)(4)(5). It is usually fairly pale in colour, with a bold, brown stripe running along the body. As a juvenile, the Saudi fringe-fingered lizard has a blue tail, which changes to blue-white with age (2)(3).
There is very little information available on the biology of the Saudi fringe-fingered lizard; however, it is thought that the sand-dwelling species of the Acanthodactylus genus may rely heavily on ants as prey (3). A study on the evolution of lizard toe fringes has found that, contrary to most other ‘fringed’ reptile species, the fringes of the Saudi fringe-fingered lizard are different shapes on either side of the toe, with ‘triangular’ shaped scales on one side, and ‘projecting’ scales on the other (9).
Occurring in arid regions, the Saudi fringe-fingered lizard is primarily a sand-dwelling species (2)(3). It has also been reported from the sabkhas (salt flats) of the UAE, where it may occasionally forage (8).
Relatively little is currently known about the distribution and status of the Saudi fringe-fingered lizard. However, in parts of the United Arab Emirates it is believed to be under threat from real estate development (1).
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