|A mummified common lizard, Zootoca vivipara|
|Dorsal view of the Z. vivipara specimen|
|Dorsal abdominal scales of young Z. vivipara - dark but with a hint of the metallic greenish-brown-bronze colour (including some gold flecks) that typically develops after a few weeks (Beebee & Griffiths 2000)|
|Ventral view of young Z. vivipara|
|Ventral scales/plates of young Z. vivipara|
|Side view of the head of young Z. vivipara.|
|Small Fungi growing on the head of Z. vivipara|
...and another kingdom of organisms as these are clearly Fungi. These structures are around 0.5mm long, with the white 'blob' around 0.1mm in diameter. I can't begin to describe how fiddly it was removing these to make a slide, but I did (tiny tweezers) and decided to see if I could identify the fungus.
|Fungus from Z. vivipara (the arrows indicate the length of one of the stalk cells)|
|Cleistothecium (spore mass) of Eurotium /Aspergillus|
|Warty spores of Eurotium/Aspergillus indicated by arrows. Others are not in focus.|
The taxonomy of some fungal groups is complex because different (asexual 'anamorph' and sexual 'teleomorph') stages have been given different names, and in some cases there are several anamorphs, all with separate names. This is case here with Eurotium being the teleomorph and Aspergillus the anamorph - both of which may be found together, and often are. I could expand on this, but fortunately don't need to - as of January 1st 2013, any one fungus will have a single name covering all stages/'morphs', and details of how this will work are given in Hawksworth (2011). As far as this specimen is concerned, taxonomic considerations aside, it does mean that it is mouldy and therefore not perfectly mummified. I have it in a dry container so it may surrvive, or I might find it turns into a clean skeleton. Certainly this eruption from the scales shows it's still active.
|'Tuft' of Eurotium/Aspergillus growing from the skin of Z. vivipara|
|Cheek teeth of juvenile Z. vivipara|
|Front teeth of juvenile Z. vivipara|
Lastly, I can't finish this post without mentioning reptile conservation in the UK. The common lizard is widespread but has declined, especially in the south, due largely to development pressure and the loss of brownfield sites. Because of this it is now a UK BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) species. It seems clear that habitat loss needs to be tackled (although with a government that seems to want to relax, rather than tighten, planning laws it is unclear how this will happen), but there is good advice in Gent & Gibson (2003) and Edgar et al. (2010). Rather than repeating what they have said, or putting my campaigning hat on, I'd just like to highlight the importance of collecting (and sending in to Biological Records Centres) reptile species records, especially as part of systematic surveys though ad hoc records are valuable too, and undertaking practical conservation work to improve habitat quality.
Arribas, O.J. (1998). Osteology of the Pyrenean Mountain Lizards and comparison with other species
of the collective genus Archaeolacerta Mertens, 1921 s. l. from Europe and Asia Minor (Squamata: Sauna: Lacertidae). Herpetozoa 11(1/2): 47-70.
Beebee, T. & Griffiths, R. (2000). Amphibians & Reptiles. HarperCollins, London.
Edgar, P., Foster, J. & Baker, J. (eds.) (2010). Reptile Habitat Management Handbook. ARC, Bournemouth.
Ellis, M.B. & Ellis, J.P. (1998). Microfungi on Miscellaneous Substrates (2nd ed.). Richmond, Slough.
Gent, T. & Gibson, S. (eds.) (2003). Herpetofauna Workers' Manual (revised reprint). JNCC, Peterborough.
Hawksworth, D. (2011). A new dawn for the naming of fungi: impacts of decisions made in Melbourne in July 2011 on the future publication and regulation of fungal names. Mycokeys 1: 7-20.
Inns, H. (2009). Britain's Reptiles and Amphibians. WildGuides, Old Basing.