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Ancylodactylus laikipiensis MALONZA & BAUER, 2022

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common Names 
SynonymAncylodactylus laikipiensis MALONZA & BAUER 2022: 121 
DistributionWC Kenya

Type locality: Ol Ari Nyiro Ranch-Laikipia Nature Conservancy at Mukutani Gorge Lodge, Laikipia County, Kenya (00.61500° N, 36.36889° E; 1775 m)  
TypesHolotype. NMK-L3214/1, adult female, collected 31 July 2009 by Victor D. Wasonga, Mike Roberts & J. Benjamin. Note that the largest female was chosen as the holotype because in both male paratypes not enough of the post-pygal tail was present to adequate evaluate the condition of caudal tuberculation.
Paratypes. NMK-L1462/1, L1462/2, adult males Mukutani Gorge in the vicinity of the holotype locality (00.62215° N, 36.372276° E; 1682m), collected 18 April 2012 by Victor D. Wasonga & Justus Ochong; NMK-L3152, adult female, Mukutani Gorge in the vicinity of holotype locality (00.61472° N, 36.36917° E), collected 9 July 2008 by Victor D. Wasonga & Joash O. Nyamache. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A small-sized Ancylodactylus with a maximum SVL of approximately 35 mm. Dorsal scalation mostly homogeneous with no trunk tubercles, but some variation in granular scale size on the trunk. Limbs and digits long, with enlarged basal lamellae under and proximal to penultimate interphalangeal joint (3 under digit IV). Length of intact original tail unknown. 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 7. Dorsal pattern of pale fleurs-de-lis and spots on a dull, yellowish-brown background. Ventral coloration of trunk, limbs and underside of head bright yellow, tail venter yellow to orange; no dark markings on chin, throat or trunk, chin and anterior throat whitish with diffuse dark longitudinal stripes. Whitish with faint darker markings on throat and trunk. (MALONZA & BAUER 2022)

Comparisons with Congeners. Ancylodactylus laikipiensis 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 lacks dorsal tubercle rows on the trunk, a feature that differentiates it from all congeners except A. dickersonae (0–6 fide Perret 1986; 0–4 fide Spawls et al. 2018), and A. mathewsensis sp. nov. (0–2). It possesses a lower number of precloacal pores (7) than A. africanus (9–12), A. barbouri (14), A. dilepis (8), A. petrodroma (8–12), A. occidentalis (8–12), A. alantika (11), A. gigas (15–16), A. kenyaensis sp. nov. (8), A. kituiensis sp. nov. (8–13), and A. chyuluensis sp. nov. (8). It may also be distinguished in having an 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 having yellow on most of the venter it differs from A. barbouri, A. uzungwae, A. quattuorseriatus, A. gigas, A. kenyaensis sp. nov., A. kituiensis sp. nov. and A. chyuluensis sp. nov., and it is the only Kenyan Ancylodactylus in which the entire venter is yellow, including the underside of the head. Among Kenyan congeners A. laikipiensis sp. nov. (35 mm maximum SVL) is significantly smaller than A. kenyaensis sp. nov. (maximum SVL 65 mm) and A. kituiensis sp. nov. (maximum SVL 50 mm), marginally smaller than A. mathewsensis sp. nov. (maximum SVL 40 mm), and larger than A. spawlsi, sp. nov. (maximum SVL 30 mm) and A. chyuluensis sp. nov. (maximum SVL 28 mm).
Coloration (in life). Based on photographed holotype (see Fig. 10). Base color a dull yellowish-brown with dorsal series of eight overlapping chevrons or fleurs-de-lis ranging from whitish on nape to light brown on sacrum. A more irregularly-shaped whitish marking from occiput on to anterior nape. Lateral surfaces with a series of approximately 15 round spots extending from the posterior part of the head, across the shoulder and down the flanks to the sacrum; largest spots between the limb insertions. A parallel series of smaller, less conspicuous pale spots runs between the fleurs-de-lis and flank spots. Like the fleurs-de-lis, both rows of spots are more whitish anteriorly, becoming a yellowish-brown after the midbody (Fig. 10A). Small, dark brown flecks scattered across body, forming 1–2 irregular rows along the lower flanks and also roughly paralleling the pale markings on the dorsum. Markings on head as described above, with pale markings around parietal table whitish and scattered cream-to-beige markings on the snout and interorbital area, and medium brown lines emanating from the orbit. Labial scales alternating cream and brown. Limbs paler and more yellowish than body, with medium to dark brown markings and banding on the digits. Tail dorsum similar to trunk, with large, beige-to-cream diamonds mid-dorsally (all tails broken or regenerated, so number of markings unknown). Pair of very dark brown spots over posterior sacrum. Ventral color of throat, trunk and limbs bright yellow (Fig. 10B). Subcaudal coloration yellow at base, becoming more orange distally, a duller yellowish-brown on regenerated portion of tail; scattered yellow-orange single scales extending on to ventrolateral margins of tail. Palms and soles yellow mottled with gray. (MALONZA & BAUER 2022)

Variation. Mensural data for the type series is given in Table 5. All the paratypes generally resemble the holotype. The paratypes are all in general good condition with some showing the clear dorsal chevron marks. The most extensive tail (regenerated) is 86% of SVL (NMK-L3152). In neither male paratype was enough of the post-pygal tail present to unambiguously confirm the atuberculate condition No clear sexual dimorphism in size and color. Two males have a continuous series of 7 precloacal pores (Fig 9, Table 5); hemipenial bulge not pronounced, postcloacal spurs tiny. (MALONZA & BAUER 2022) 
CommentDistribution: see map in MALONZA & BAUER 2022: 104 (Fig. 1). 
EtymologyNamed for the Laikipia Plateau area, the type locality. 
  • 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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