Apart from a single record in 1966, this Hispaniola endemic species has not been collected since 1929. Worryingly, a number of older records suggest it may have been relatively common in the early 20th century.
More recent efforts to find the species have failed to record any evidence of a surviving population. The Atalaye curlytail lizard has not been seen on lle a-Cabrit in over 90 years. The lack of sightings, particularly as this is not a cryptic species, has led to the fear this species may have already become extinct.
Curly-tailed lizards of the genus Leiocephalus are the only members of their entire family. These unique reptiles diverged from all other lizards around 60 million years ago, shortly after the extinction of the dinosaurs!
The Atalaye curlytail lizard is threatened by habitat loss driven by logging for wood and charcoal production, in combination with agricultural expansion. The introduction of the small Indian mongoose has also led to a greater predation risk on this species.
There are no known species specific conservation measures in place for this species currently. Surveys are required to see whether this species is still extant.
- Order: Squamata
- Family: Leiocephalidae
- Population: Possibly extinct
- Trend: unknown
The species is known from northern Haiti and on lle-a-Cabrit, with an elevation range from 337-752 metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology
This species is from xeric (very dry) to mesic (moderately damp) habitats. It can be found on grass or scrub along banks of small gullies.