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Ancylodactylus mathewsensis MALONZA & BAUER, 2022

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common Names 
SynonymAncylodactylus mathewsensis MALONZA & BAUER 2022: 116 
DistributionC Kenya

Type locality: Mathews Range Forest at Mugur area, Namunyak Conservancy, Samburu County, Kenya (01.25558° N, 37.22130° E; 1768 m).  
TypesHolotype. NMK-L3375/1, adult male, collected 9 June 2010 by Patrick K. Malonza & Justus Ochong.
Paratypes. NMK-L3375/2, adult female and NMK-L3375/4, adult male, same data as holotype; NMK-L3368/3, adult female, Mathews Range Forest, Lemurit area, Samburu County, Kenya (01.17122° N, 37.34365° E; 1469 m), collected 4 June 2010 by Patrick K. Malonza & Justus Ochong. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A small-sized Ancylodactylus, both sexes with a maximum SVL of approximately 40 mm. Dorsal scalation mostly homogeneous with smooth, granular scales. Trunk with a few small, scattered tubercles, particularly in the sacral region; may otherwise be atuberculate, or there may be a single row of tubercles on each flank. 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. Tail dorsum distal to the pygal portion of the tail atuberculate; median subcaudal scales transversely widened and in a single row. Male precloacal pores in a single continuous row of 6–7. Dorsal pattern of pale fleurs-de-lis and spots on a yellowishto grayish-brown background; diamond-shaped markings on tail. Ventral coloration of trunk yellow, tail venter orange, 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 mathewsensis 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 postpygal (autotomic) portion of the tail dorsum. It has fewer rows of dorsal trunk tubercles (0–2) than all its congeners except A. dickersonae (0–6 fide Perret 1986; 0–4 fide Spawls et al. 2018), A. laikipiensis sp. nov. (0), A. spawlsi, sp. nov. (0–2), and A. chyuluensis sp. nov. (2). It possesses a lower number of precloacal pores (6–7) 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 enlarged single median series of 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. africanus, A. quattuorseriatus, A. dickersonae, A. koehleri, A. alantika, A. laikipiensis sp. nov., A. spawlsi, sp. nov., and A. chyuluensis sp. nov. (single row of median subcaudals, but without midventral scales 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., and A. kituiensis sp. nov. Among Kenyan congeners A. mathewsensis sp. nov. (40 mm maximum SVL) is significantly smaller than A. kenyaensis sp. nov. (maximum SVL 65 mm) and A. kituiensis sp. nov. (maximum SVL 50 mm) but marginally larger than A. laikipiensis sp. nov. (maximum SVL 35 mm), and substantially larger than A. spawlsi, sp. nov. (maximum SVL 30 mm), and A. chyuluensis sp. nov. (maximum SVL 28 mm). (MALONZA & BAUER 2022)

Coloration (in life). Based on specimens photographed in life (see Fig. 8). In life, during the day, the dorsal color is mainly shades of pale yellowish-brown to dark grayish-brown, with a middorsal series of paler markings, each resembling a fleur-de-lis that partly overlaps the next most anterior marking. Dorsal color may be affected by the substrate on which the gecko is resting and/or external stimuli, such as prevailing weather conditions. The dorsal markings may be cream colored (Fig. 8A) or reddish-brown (Fig. 8B) and have a darker central marking and are outlined anteriorly by a thin dark brown border. The darkest portions of the dorsum are in paravertebral position just anterior to the lateral portions of the chevrons/fleurs-de-lis. A series of pale, rounded markings, roughly the same color as the dorsal markings run along the flanks. These are each partly surrounded by darker brown irregular borders and may be centered on the flank tubercles, if present.
The head bears the same colors as the dorsum, with a darker background bearing roughly symmetrical paler markings, including an occipital blotch. A diffuse brown line runs anteriorly from the eye and meets its counterpart on the posterior portion of the snout. From the posterior margin of the orbit a brown line passes above the ear to meet its counterpart on the nape, behind the pale occipital blotch and another passes posteroventrally towards the posterior end of the jaw. The labial scales exhibit alternating light and dark markings. Limbs mottled to banded with the same colors as the trunk; digits with well-demarcated alternating light and dark bands. The dorsal pattern continues onto the tail with the pale markings becoming distinctly diamond-shaped. 8–9 such markings on the original tail, each flanked anteriorly by a thick, irregular dark brown border and with a narrow, dark brown mid-vertebral line in its center.
The venter is bright yellow from the posterior throat region to the pygal portion of the tail, with the most intensely pigment region on the neck. The anterior throat is whitish and bears a series of diffuse, dark longitudinal lines; the yellow coloration of the rest of the venter pales to a wash on the posterior throat, mostly fading away by the widest portion of the head, although traces of pale yellow extend forward along the edge of the jaws. The undersides of the limbs are also bright yellow, with the palms and soles grayish or mottled gray and yellow. The subcaudal surface is a bright orange, especially intense on the scales bordering the transverse subcaudal plates. At the base of the post-pygal portion of the tail there is a transition zone from yellow to orange within which the scale centers bear the latter color and their margins the former (Fig 8C). The ventral surface of the regenerated portion of the tail is a dull orange, fading distally. (MALONZA & BAUER 2022)

Variation. Mensural data for the type series is given in Table 4. Paratypes generally resemble the holotype and all are in good general condition. Variation in life color is discussed above. There is no evidence of sexual dimorphism in size or color. The male paratype has a single continuous series of 6 precloacal pores. (MALONZA & BAUER 2022) 
CommentDistribution: see map in MALONZA & BAUER 2022: 104 (Fig. 1). 
EtymologyNamed for the Mathews Range, the type locality of this taxon. 
  • 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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