We revise the taxonomy of the agamid genus Sitana Cuvier, 1829, a widely distributed terrestrial lizard from the Indian subcontinent based on detailed comparative analyses of external morphology, osteology and molecular data. We sampled 81 locations spread over 160,000 km2 in Peninsular India including type localities, which represented two known and five previously undescribed species. Based on general similarity in body shape and dewlap all species were hitherto identified as members of the genus Sitana. However, Sitana deccanensis and two other morphotypes, which are endemic to north Karnataka and Maharashtra in Peninsular India, are very distinct from the rest of the known members of the genus Sitana based on their external morphology and osteology. Moreover, members of this distinct morphological group were monophyletic in the molecular tree, and this clade (clade 1) was sister to two well-supported clades (2 and 3) constituting the rest of the Sitana. The interclade genetic divergence in mtDNA between clade 1 and clades 2 and 3 was 21-23%, whereas clade 2 and clade 3 exhibited 14- 16% genetic divergence. Thus, we designate a new genus name “Sarada” gen. nov. for species represented in Clade 1, which also includes the recently resurrected Sitana deccanensis. We describe two new species in Sarada gen. nov. and three new species in Sitana. Similarity in the dewlap of Sitana and Sarada gen. nov. is attributed to similar function (sexual signaling) and similarity in body shape is attributed to a similar terrestrial life style and/or common ancestry.

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Contributions to Zoology

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Deepak, V., Giri, V. B., Asif, M., Dutta, S. K., Vyas, R., Zambre, A. M., … Karanth, K. P. (2016). Systematics and phylogeny of Sitana (Reptilia: Agamidae) of Peninsular India, with the description of one new genus and five new species. Contributions to Zoology, 85(1), 67–111.