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Ancylodactylus chyuluensis MALONZA & BAUER, 2022

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common Names 
SynonymAncylodactylus chyuluensis MALONZA & BAUER 2022: 129 
DistributionS Kenya (Chyulu Hills National Park)

Type locality: Chyulu Hills National Park, Makueni County, Kenya (02.56017° S, 37.88877° E; 1200 m)  
TypesHolotype. NMK-L3869, adult male, collected September 21 2016 by Patrick K. Malonza, Felista K. Kilunda & Justus Ochong. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: An extremely small-sized Ancylodactylus with a SVL of 28 mm in the unique type. Dorsal scalation mostly homogeneous with a single pair of rows of very small tubercles along the flanks; other scales minute and granular. Limbs and digits long, with enlarged basal lamellae under and proximal to penultimate interphalangeal joint (3 under digit IV). Length of intact original tail slightly longer than SVL. Tail dorsum distal to the pygal portion of the tail atuberculate; median subcaudal scales in a single row of large, but not transversely widened scales. Male precloacal pores in a single continuous row of 8. Dorsal pattern of pale fleurs-de-lis and chevrons as well as pale and dark spots on spots on a gray-brown to olive background; tail with pairs of dark brown and ashy chevrons or crossbands. Ventral coloration grayish with darker markings on the edges of scales yielding a mottled pattern; throat and chin mottled with a bluish center. (MALONZA & BAUER 2022)

Comparisons with Congeners. Ancylodactylus chyuluensis sp. nov. may be distinguished from A. spinicollis and A. petrodroma in lacking an enlarged preaxial metatarsal scale and from these two species plus A. alantika in having a series of flattened, rectangular lamellae subtending the second and third phalanges of the pedal digits, rather than single enlarged, rounded scale (plaque of Perret 1986) at the penultimate joint of each digit. It is distinguished from A. uzungwae, A. quattuorseriatus, A. dickersonae (but see Spawls et al. 2018), A. petrodroma, A. occidentalis, A. spinicollis, A. alantika, A. kituiensis sp. nov., and A. spawlsi sp. nov. by lacking tubercles on the post-pygal (autotomic) portion of the tail dorsum. It has only two tubercle rows on the trunk, one on each flank, a feature that differentiates it form all congeners except some A. dickersonae (0–6 rows fide Perret 1986; 0–4 fide Spawls et al. 2018) and A. mathewsensis sp. nov. (0–2 rows), and A. spawlsi sp. nov. (2 rows). It possesses a lower number of precloacal pores (8) than A. africanus (9–12), A. barbouri (14), A. alantika (11), and A. gigas (15–16), but has a greater number than A. mathewsensis sp. nov. (6–7), A. laikipiensis sp. nov. (7), and A. spawlsi sp. nov.(6). It may also be distinguished in having a single median series of enlarged, but not transversely widened subcaudals in contrast to A. spinicollis, A. petrodroma, and A. occidentalis (irregular subcaudals), A. elgonensis, A. barbouri, A. uzungwae, A. kenyaensis sp. nov., and A. kituiensis sp. nov. (alternating single and paired scales), and A. dilepis, A. gigas, A. africanus, A. quattuorseriatus, A. dickersonae, and A. koehleri, (single row of median subcaudals, but transversely widened or not uniform throughout). In lacking any yellow or orange ventral coloration A. chyuluensis sp. nov. may be distinguished from A. africanus, A. elgonensis, A. koehleri, A. dilepis, A. spinicollis, A. petrodroma, A. occidentalis, A. alantika, A. mathewsensis sp. nov., A. laikipiensis sp. nov., and A. spawlsi, sp. nov. This last feature also distinguishes the new species from A. elgonensis,
With the only known specimen having a SVL of 28 mm, Ancylodactylus chyuluensis sp. nov. is the smallest known Ancylodactylus. Although diminutive (< 30 mm SVL) species of South Asian Cnemaspis have been identified (Rösler 2016; Batuwita et al. 2019; Sayyed et al. 2021), A. spawlsi sp. nov. and A. chyuluensis sp. nov. represent the first such tiny forms for Ancylodactylus. Among Kenyan congeners both of these species are easily separated on size from A. africanus (maximum 54 mm SVL), A. elgonensis (maximum SVL 61 mm), A. dickersonae (maximum SVL 41 mm), A. kenyaensis sp. nov. (maximum SVL 65 mm, kituiensis sp. nov. (maximum SVL 50 mm), and A. mathewsensis sp. nov. (maximum SVL 40 mm). (MALONZA & BAUER 2022)

Coloration (in life). Based on photographs of freshly euthanized holotype (see Figs. 13A, 13B). During the day the dorsal color is mainly shades of light to dark gray-brown to olive, although like its congeners, body color was changeable based on substrate, environmental conditions and physiological state. Dorsum bearing a series of eight partly overlapping blue-greyish fleurs-de-lis from the nape to the sacrum. An additional smaller peach-colored marking (cream to orangish) present on the occiput. Anterior margins of fleurs-de-lis with dark brown anterior borders, expanding laterally to form pairs of blotches lateral to the anterior apices of the fleurs-de-lis (Figs. 13A). Lateral surfaces with a series of approximately 12 small, roundish, blue-grayish spots extending from the neck, across the shoulder and down the flanks to the sacrum; largest spots between the limb insertions. The sparse flank tubercles are bright white and are each enclosed within a pale spot, although not all spots contain tubercles. A parallel series of smaller, less conspicuous pale spots runs between the fleurs-de-lis and larger spots. Much of the flank area not occupied by pale markings supports irregular, almost blackish spots of different sizes. The head grayish with a dark brown line passing from the snout and through the eye and another extending posteroventrally from the corner of the mouth. Broken transverse blackish bands pass over the crown and between the orbits and there are whitish granules speckled over the lower margins of the head. Posterior to the angle of the jaws there is a single pale peach-colored marking (Fig. 13A). Limbs predominantly gray with blackish markings forming irregular banding on the limbs. Thighs with whitish banding alternating with gray and black. Alternating bands of blackish, gray, and ashy white on the digits. The small postcloacal spur is bright white. Tail dorsum mostly pale grayish-olive and bearing a series of 12 dark brown chevrons or cross bands from tail base to tail tip. Proximal dark bands are thin and are followed by a more diffuse ashy border. These markings become less regular near the middle of the tail and both the dark (now blackish) and ashy marks become thicker, excluding the grayish-olive base color from the tail tip, which terminates in a dark brown tip. Individual dark brown or ashy scales are scattered on the spaces between the bands and larger spots alternate along the ventrolateral margin of the tail (Fig. 13A). Ventral color of trunk dark overall (Fig. 13B) with most individual ventral scales including scattered blackish pigment granules. Distal margins of most scales from neck to groin appear almost pale yellowish as do some of the lateralmost of the ventral scales. Undersides of limbs similarly dark, darker beneath thighs where dark pigment is present at the periphery of all scales. Palms and soles gray with scattered darker punctations. Throat and chin dull whitish to bluish (centrally) and heavily marked by purplish spotting anteriorly and complex reticulations posteriorly that are confluent with the dark trunk markings. Subcaudal surface of the tail pale greenish-white with most scales having their distal and lateral margins darkly pigmented. Pigmentation denser towards tail tip, where some scales are almost entirely black. (MALONZA & BAUER 2022) 
CommentDistribution: see map in MALONZA & BAUER 2022: 104 (Fig. 1). 
EtymologyNamed for the Chyulu Hills, the type locality where the single known specimen was collected. 
  • MALONZA, P. K., & BAUER, A. M. 2022. Resurrection of the African gecko genus Ancylodactylus Müller, 1907 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) and description of six new species from Kenya. Zootaxa 5141 (2): 101-139 - get paper here
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