I recently returned from a trip to Mexico City. I was there for a couple weeks, working with my collaborator Adrián Nieto at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). We’re working on trying to finish up a couple manuscripts on the phylogeny of Mexican whiptails. It was a really productive, fun trip, and was the most time I’ve spent in Mexico City and at UNAM. When I have been through before, it’s usually on the way back from fieldwork to drop off specimens, so I haven’t had much time on those visits. Pictured here are Adrián’s lab of Herpetology and a cool rock snake nearby.
We spent most of the time in the lab trying to organize and identify specimens. Adrián has an incredible collection of whiptails from Mexico from all the fieldwork he and his lab have done over the years. We solved a lot of problems, but like the many whiptail taxonomists that have come before us, trying to make sense of the phenotypic variation we see among populations can be pretty confusing some times. Here’s an example of one specimen from Guerrero:
It’s not clear exactly what to make of this population. Phenotypically, it’s most similar to Aspidoscelis lineattissima (though not exactly in line with the diagnosis), but it’s found much farther south in Guerrero than scientists think this species occurs.
We also spent some time analyzing some data and trying to figure out how to use El Supercómputo en la UNAM (http://www.super.unam.mx/). We were less successful at that, but did make some progress thanks in part to another postdoc in the department, Rubi Meza.
Finally, being the excellent hosts they are, on the weekends Adrián and his wife Elsa made sure to take me to cool places all over the city, including the Museum of Anthropology, the ruins at Tehuacán, and a bunch of other neat spots to site see and eat excellent tacos. Couldn’t have hoped for a better trip (besides maybe a few more herps, which we really didn’t have time to look for while I was there).