Vertebrate taxa with entirely unisexual populations are composed of females that reproduce without fertilization and are generally of hybrid origin. At least 23 vertebrate families have unisexual lineages. Within squamate reptiles, >40 uniparental species have been described from five major lineages: acrodont iguanians, Gekkota, Serpentes, Scincomorpha, and Varanidae. Pleurodont iguanians include >1100 species, all of which have gonochoristic reproduction. Here we report the discovery of a new unisexual lizard from the liolaemid genus Liolaemus, a species-rich (∼260 species) clade distributed over most of southern South American. The new species, Liolaemus parthenos, is the only known all-female triploid pleurodont iguanian. The structural chromosome heteromorphisms of the karyotypes support the hypothesis that L. parthenos is the product of a hybrid origin. Based on morphology, the new species is assignable to the L. boulengeri group (sensu Abdala, 2007), and phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA indicate that L. parthenos is nested within L. darwinii, suggesting that the latter is the maternal ancestor of this species. Additional data are needed to identify the patrilineal ancestor.
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Vol. 104 • No. 2