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Ancylodactylus kituiensis MALONZA & BAUER, 2022

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common Names 
SynonymAncylodactylus kituiensis MALONZA & BAUER 2022: 110 
DistributionCS Kenya

Type locality: Mutha Hill, Kitui South, Kenya (01.77512° S, 38.40588° E; 1300 m elevation)  
TypesHolotype. NMK-L2702/2, adult male, collected 6 October 2004 by Patrick K. Malonza & Joash O. Nyamache.
Paratypes. NMK-L2702/1, adult female, same data as for holotype; NMK-L2744/1, adult male, Itiani Spring, Endau Hill, Kitui East, Kenya (01.24883° S, 38.54122° E; 772 m), collected 9 April 2005 by Victor D. Wasonga & Joash O. Nyamache; L2708/1, adult female, Itiani Stream Spring, Endau Hill, Kitui East, Kenya (01.23710° S, 38.54608° E; 800 m elevation), collected 13 October 2004 by Patrick K. Malonza & Joash O. Nyamache; L3559/1, adult male and L3559/5, adult female, Nzambani Rock, Kitui Central, Kenya (01.42645° S, 38.05622° E; 1145 m), collected 18 December 2014 by Patrick K. Malonza; L3780/1 adult male, Kaita Village, Mutomo in Kitui South, Kenya (01.77571° S, 38.34748° E; 846 m) collected 7 June 2016 by Victor Wasonga, Jacob M. Ngwava, Hesborn Nyambati & Daniel Kinaa Mutui; L3775/4, adult male, Mutomo Hill, Kitui South, Kenya (01.84515° S, 38.21529° E; 959 m), collected 9 June 2016 by Victor Wasonga, Jacob M. Ngwava, Hesborn Nyambati & Daniel Kinaa Mutui. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A medium to large-sized Ancylodactylus with both sexes reaching about 50 mm SVL. Dorsal scalation heterogeneous, minute granular scales with enlarged, regularly-arranged, rounded tubercles in 8 to 9 longitudinal rows at midbody extending posteriorly from the nape or occiput. Limbs and digits long, with enlarged basal lamellae under and proximal to penultimate interphalangeal joint (4 under digit IV). Original tail slightly longer than SVL; dorsum of tail tuberculate, four rows of pointed, keeled tubercles proximally, becoming more rounded and reducing to only two rows distally; median subcaudal scales with alternating pattern of single enlarged scales and pairs of somewhat smaller scales. Male precloacal pores in a single continuous row of 8–13. Dorsal pattern of dark and light spots and yellowish lines on a gray-brown background; tail distinctly banded. Ventral coloration whitish with dark markings on throat and trunk and a yellow to orange tail venter. (MALONZA & BAUER 2022)

Comparisons with Congeners. Ancylodactylus kituiensis 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. africanus, A. elgonensis, A. barbouri, A. koehleri, A. dilepis, A. gigas, A. kenyaensis sp. nov., A. mathewsensis sp. nov., A. laikipiensis sp. nov., and A. chyuluensis sp. nov by bearing two or more rows of tubercles on the post-pygal (autotomic) portion of the tail dorsum. It has more longitudinal rows of dorsal trunk tubercles (8–9) than A. quattuorseriatus, A. dilepis, A. mathewsensis sp. nov., A. laikipiensis sp. nov., A. spawlsi, sp. nov., and A. chyuluensis sp. nov. (maximum four rows), and fewer than A. elgonensis (10–14) and A. kenyaensis sp. nov. (12–16). It possesses a lower number of precloacal pores (8–13) than A. barbouri (14) and A. gigas (15–16) and a higher number than A. mathewsensis sp. nov., A. laikipiensis sp. nov. and A. spawlsi, sp. nov. (6–7), It may also be distinguished in having an enlarged median series of subcaudals consisting of alternating single and paired scales from A. africanus, A. dilepis, A. gigas, A. alantika, A. mathewsensis sp. nov., A. laikipiensis sp. nov., A. spawlsi, sp. nov., and A. chyuluensis sp. nov. (all with a single median row of enlarged subcaudals) and from A. spinicollis, A. petrodroma, and A. occidentalis (irregular subcaudals). In having yellow on parts of the venter it differs from A. barbouri, A. uzungwae, A. quattuorseriatus, and A. gigas and from most other congeners it differs in having the trunk from the axillae to cloaca greyish or whitish, with only a yellowish tail, chest and neck. This difference applies to A. africanus (Fig. 6), in which all but the throat is yellow, and with which A. kituiensis has been confused (see Spawls et al. 2018). At a maximum of 50 mm SVL A. kituiensis sp. nov. is smaller than A. kenyaensis sp. nov. (to 65 mm SVL) and A. elgonensis (to 61 mm SVL), but larger than A. barbouri (42 mm SVL), A. uzungwae (40 mm SVL), A. quattuorseriatus (41 mm SVL), A. dickersonae (41 mm SVL), A. dilepis (32 mm SVL), A. mathewsensis sp. nov. (40 mm SVL), A. laikipiensis sp. nov. (35 mm SVL), A. spawlsi, sp. nov. (30 mm SVL), and A. chyuluensis sp. nov. (28 mm SVL). Ancylodactylus kituiensis sp. nov. also has a single, conspicuous white or yellow tubercle on each side of the neck. This is prominent in some West African congeners, like A. spinicollis and A. alantika but, is less conspicuous in other East African taxa. In addition, the tail of Ancylodactylus kituiensis is banded, as in Hemidactylus mabouia (Moreau de Jonnès) and H. platycephalus Peters and the dorsum of both the trunk and tail lacks the chevron or fleur-de-lis type markings seen in other East African species of Ancylodactylus. (MALONZA & BAUER 2022)

Coloration (in life). Based on photographed paratypes (see Fig. 5). In life, during the day, the dorsal color is mainly shades of light gray-brown, with approximately six pairs of darker brown paravertebral markings from nape to tail base, these separated by thin, golden to pale lichenous, complete or broken transverse bands which extend on to the flanks (Fig. 5C). Either the paravertebral markings or the transverse bars may dominate and a vertebral stripe is sometimes present. In some individuals the two pairs of dark spots on the neck and shoulder are particularly dark and or prominent. The head is light grayish-brown with some small, dark scattered markings. Labial scales with alternating light (yellowish) and dark brown markings. Margins of orbits yellow. Prominent neck tubercle and surrounding granules whitish to very pale yellow (Fig. 5A–C). Limbs mottled to banded with alternating mustard colored and chestnut markings; digits with well-demarcated dark brown bands that are shorter than the intervening pale beige to brown interspaces. The tail is golden to mustard-colored with 6–7 reddish-brown to chestnut bands (Figs. 5A, 5C). Dorsal color may be affected by the substrate on which the gecko is resting and/or external stimuli, such as prevailing weather conditions. Ventral body color off-white with scattered pale yellowish scales. Neck and forebody to forelimb insertions up to shoulders and on to ventral surfaces of limbs a bright yellow or orange (Figs. 5B, 5D). Chin and throat bright white with thin brownish chevron marks which continue on to the yellow neck (Fig. 5D). Tail venter pale yellow, bolder on ventrolateral surfaces. Postcloacal tubercle yellow. In contrast, in Ancylodactylus africanus except for the throat, which may be mottled whitish, the underside, including the chest, belly, limbs and tail, is yellowish. (Fig 5).

Variation. Mensural data for the type series is given in Table 2. All paratypes generally resemble the holotype (see above and Fig. 5 for color variation). Comparative data for Ancylodactylus africanus is given in Table 3. Males have a continuous series of 8 to 13 precloacal pores (Fig 3, Table 4). (MALONZA & BAUER 2022) 
CommentDistribution: see map in MALONZA & BAUER 2022: 104 (Fig. 1). 
EtymologyNamed for Kitui County, the more inclusive locality within which the dryland rocky hills and out- crops occupied by this species occur. 
  • 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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