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Gonatodes rozei RIVERO-BLANCO & SCHARGEL, 2012

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Higher TaxaSphaerodactylidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos) 
Common Names 
SynonymGonatodes rozei RIVERO-BLANCO & SCHARGEL 2012 
DistributionVenezuela (Miranda, Anzoátegui, Guárico, Vargas)

Type locality: 3 km SW of Araguita (10 12’58’’ N, 66 29’07’’ W; ca. 150 m asl), near limit of Guatopo National Park, Miranda, Venezuela Map legend:
TDWG region - Region according to the TDWG standard, not a precise distribution map.

NOTE: TDWG regions are generated automatically from the text in the distribution field and not in every cases it works well. We are working on it.
TypesHolotype: MHNLS 20780, an adult male, collected by G. Rivas and W. Schargel, September 17, 2006.
Paratypes (n=39). VENEZUELA: MIRANDA: 32.9 Km N of Altagracia de Orituco, Guatopo National Park: TCWC 59300–59306. Guatopo National Park: MBUCV 5044, MHNLS 1666–1669, 1674–1677, 2082. GUÁRICO: 5 km E of “Puesto La Colonia,” Guatopo National Park: TCWC 59319–59320. 25.2 km N of Altagracia de Orituco, Guatopo National Park: TCWC 59318. Hacienda La Elvira, Guatopo National Park: UTA 60126, TCWC 59309–59317, 59321. 
CommentThis is a highly variable species with four main color morphs in males.

History: Gonatodes rozei has been known among herpetologists for more than 30 years and it has been frequently collected near the city of Caracas. The name G. rozei was used in the first author’s unpublished PhD dissertation (Rivero-Blanco 1979) but, even though herpetologists have used the name informally over internet gecko forums, to our knowledge it has never appeared in the scientific literature.

Diagnosis. The new species can be distinguished from all congeners by a combination of the following characters: (1) large size (largest specimen examined has a SVL of 59.1 mm), (2) 78–100 scales around midbody, (3) single, elongated supraciliary spine absent, (4) three or four lateral scale rows on the digits, (5) subcaudal pattern Type B, (6) gular scales posterior to the postmentals with a sharp transition to small granular scales, (7) males with blue iris (females blue or yellow), and (8) males typically with an immaculate bright yellow to reddish orange hood. The large size of G. rozei readily distinguishes this species from the small species in the genus, namely G. albogularis, G. antillensis, G. atricucullaris, G. caudiscutatus, G. daudini, G. eladioi, G. humeralis, G. ligiae, G. petersi, and G. vittatus, none of which exceed 42 mm in SVL. Gonatodes rozei further differs from the small species, except G. caudiscutatus and G. ligiae, in having three (rarely) or four (typically) lateral rows of scales on the distal portion of the digits as opposed to two. Males of the new species generally have a solid yellow or reddish yellow head whereas in G. caudiscutatus the head is always covered with yellow stripes. Specimens of G. rozei have fewer scales around midbody compared to G. ligiae (78–100 vs. 109–128, respectively).
Among the large and medium size species (character states in parenthesis), G. rozei differs from G. astralis, G. alexandermendesi, G. hasemani, and G. superciliaris in lacking an elongated supraciliary spine (a single elongated spine is present). It differs from G. annularis in having subcaudal pattern type B (type A or E) and a body devoid of yellow reticulations in males (body almost always covered with yellow reticulations in males). It differs from G. infernalis in having subcaudal pattern type B (type C) and having females with a brown dorsal coloration with dark and pale markings and a pale vertebral stripe (females with immaculate brown dorsal coloration; males not known for this species). Gonatodes rozei differs from G. ceciliae, G. concinnatus, G. nascimentoi, G. ocellatus, G. riveroi, and G. tapajonicus in lacking a suprahumeral/suprascapular pale spot/bar edged by black as opposed to having a distinct (especially in males), pale (white or yellow) spot/bar edged by black located around the scapular area, either anteriorly or posteriorly relative to the front limb insertion. It further differs from G. concinnatus, G. nascimentoi, and G. tapajonicus in having fewer scales around midbody (<101 in G. rozei as opposed to >108 in the aforementioned species). Males of these three species, together with G. riveroi, are reddish brown dorsally with small, yellow and white vermiculations densely covering the body (see color variation for G. rozei below). Gonatodes rozei lacks red, olive green and yellow reticulations on the body as observed in males of G. ceciliae. Gonatodes ocellatus is a smaller species that does not exceeds 49 mm in SVL. Gonatodes rozei differs from G. lichenosus and G. seiglei in having a subcaudal pattern type B as opposed to type G and D, respectively.
Gonatodes rozei is found in close geographic proximity (Schargel, unpublished data) with G. falconensis and G. taniae, so the comparisons with these two species need to be more exhaustive. Gonatodes purpurogularis (endemic to the Mérida mountain range) is not found in close geographic proximity to G. rozei but this species forms a well-supported clade with G. falconensis and G. taniae (see Schargel et al. 2010), and all three species are very similar morphologically. These three species will be referred to as the falconensis complex in the comparisons in instances for which they all share the same character state. Males of G. falconensis have dull red or reddish brown markings, typically forming short stripes, on the head, sometimes on the body. Males of G. taniae have distinct white stripes (which remain conspicuous in museum specimens) on the head, including most noticeably canthal, postocular and postrictal stripes. In G. purpurogularis the white markings on the head are also present but they are short, not forming stripes. In contrast to what is observed in the falconensis complex, males of G. rozei have most commonly a solid yellow/orange (which fades to cream) head or, less frequently, irregular yellow reticulations on the head. Males of the falconensis complex have bright yellow coloration (fades in preserved specimens; variable in G. falconensis) suffused on the sides of the body over a pale gray background. Body coloration is variable (see variation section) in G. rozei, but we have not observed specimens with bright yellow coloration on the body. Females of the falconensis complex have a wide (expanding to the dorsolateral area), pale, middorsal, longitudinal band with straight edges. This band contains either an irregular, dark, vertebral stripe or a series of paired, paravertebral, dark spots. In females of G. rozei there is a pale, vertebral stripe which does not expand to the dorsolateral area and, as opposed to the middorsal band of the aforementioned species, the lateral edges are strongly undulating. Females of the falconensis complex have pale yellow or white transverse dashes on the sides of the body, whereas females of G. rozei have white dots on the side of the body. Regarding aspects of morphology other than color pattern, the three species of the falconensis complex have a scalation pattern in the gular area in which the scales posterior to the postmentals gradually transition from larger polygonal and juxtaposed scales into smaller imbricate scales (Schargel unpublished); whereas in G. rozei the scales posterior to the postmentals transition sharply into smaller, granular scales (Fig. 3).
Finally, G. rozei and G. annularis are the only two species of Gonatodes in which the iris of the eye is blue in life (always the case in males but variable in females). In all other species in the genus the iris is yellow, bronze, copper or red [from RIVERO-BLANCO & SCHARGEL 2012]. 
EtymologyWe take great pleasure in naming the new species after Dr. Janis Roze, a pioneer of Venezuelan herpetology and a mentor to the first author for many years. 
  • RIVERO-BLANCO, CARLOS & WALTER E. SCHARGEL 2012. A strikingly polychromatic new species of Gonatodes (Squamata: Sphaerodactylidae) from northern Venezuela. Zootaxa 3518: 66–78 - get paper here
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