Lucasium iris VANDERDUYS, HOSKIN, KUTT, WRIGHT & ZOZAYA, 2020
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|Higher Taxa||Diplodactylidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)|
|Common Names||E: Gilbert Ground Gecko|
|Synonym||Lucasium iris VANDERDUYS, HOSKIN, KUTT, WRIGHT & ZOZAYA 2020|
|Distribution||Australia (N Queensland)|
Type locality: Gilberton Station, c. 100 km south of Georgetown, north Queensland, Australia (143°40’ E, 19°12’ S)
|Types||Holotype: QM J96406, female, collected by S.M. Zozaya, 9 April 2018. Paratypes: all collected within 4 km of the above location: QM J88147, subadult male collected by A. Kutt and E. Vanderduys, 12 October 2008; QM J95526, female collected by J.M. Wright and E. Vanderduys, 7 June 2015; QM J96407, male collected by S.M. Zozaya, 9 April 2018. None of the pre-existing specimens of Lucasium or Diplodactylus vittatus held at the Queensland Museum resembled L. iris sp. nov.|
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis. Lucasium iris sp. nov. is a large (adult SVL range 53.7–62.8 mm) Lucasium from central north Queensland, Australia (Figure 1). Lucasium iris sp. nov. is morphologically distinct from all other Lucasium and easily distinguished from congeners by the following set of characters: large size; moderately long and narrow tail (TL/SVL 0.73–0.79; TW/TL 0.10–0.11); nares in contact with rostral scale; dorsal and lateral body scales homogeneous; pattern consisting of a broad pale vertebral stripe running from the snout to the base of the tail, and bordered laterally by small pale spots; paired, enlarged apical lamellae present under all digits (Vanderduys et al. 2020).|
Colour in life (holotype, Figures 3A, 4): Prominent cream to beige vertebral stripe from neck to base of tail, bordered by rich chocolate brown, fading laterally, c. 13–21 scales in width. Vertebral stripe has a discontinuous faint medial peppering of reddish-brown scales, and a patch of similarly coloured scales medially on the back of the head. Anteriorly, vertebral stripe expands to form a broad, pale crown over the top of the head, narrowing to a point at the nares, and bordered laterally by a distinct, broad, dark temporal and loreal stripe, which is a continuation of the dark dorsolateral ground colour. A scattering of small, pale, cream to lemon spots adjacent to the pale vertebral stripe, each typically occupying 2–4 scales, becoming inconspicuous on the lateral surfaces of the body. Brown dorsal colour fades towards the belly. Posteriorly, pale vertebral stripe continues onto tail base, becoming tinged with yellow just anterior to the vent; tail colour otherwise similar to trunk colour but with yellow tinge dorsally and laterally. Solid vertebral stripe becomes a broad messy, broken zigzag on tail, fading to poorly contrasting bands towards tail tip. Eye colour pale blue to silver, finely speckled with dark spots and with numerous brown to black reticulations. Supralabial scales peppered with minute very dark grey to black spots, usually encompassed by a pale ring separating them from a faint lemon background. Infralabials similar but less spotted anteriorly. Scales bordering upper half of eye tinged yellow. Limbs paler than dorsum, hind limbs with faint small spots. Belly, throat, undersides of legs, and tail immaculate. Feet and toes white; undersides of 3rd and 4th toes on hindlimbs tinged pale brown. Mouth lining pink (Vanderduys et al. 2020).
Variation. One genotyped but unvouchered individual (SMZ1327 [MT720720]; Figure 3E) paler than all other individuals with a faint peach-coloured, fully regenerated tail, and a zigzag border to the pale vertebral stripe. Another photographed but unsampled subadult individual (Figure 3F) has a tail pattern consisting of four irregular blotches with the appearance of paired ocelli (Vanderduys et al. 2020).
Comparison with other species. Comparisons are presented in the order of: sympatric and geographically close congeners first, then all other congeners in alphabetical order, and finally a visually similar species (Diplodactylus vittatus) that occurs in the region. Descriptions and measurements of species other than L. iris sp. nov. are from the species descriptions referenced and Storr et al. (1990).
From the sympatric Lucasium steindachneri (Figure 6B), L. iris sp. nov. is distinguished by larger size (L. steindachneri: c. 43 mm SVL; Boulenger 1885), nares in narrow contact with rostral scale (L. steindachneri: nares not contacting rostral), and colour and pattern (Lucasium steindachneri: usually a pink to reddish or orange-brown base colour, with the pale vertebral region often broken up into box-like patterns, which have given it the common name box-patterned gecko).
From Lucasium immaculatum (Figure 6C), L. iris sp. nov. is distinguished by generally larger size (L. immaculatum: up to 54 mm; see discussion in Doughty 2015), nares in contact with rostral scale (L. immaculatum: nares not contacting rostral), and pattern (L. immaculatum: dorsal stripe narrower, usually with numerous lateral branches that sometimes break into pale spots and flecks). The two species are geographically separated by c. 150 km (this paper).
From Lucasium stenodactylus (Boulenger, 1896), L. iris sp. nov. is distinguished by nares in narrow contact with rostral scale (L. stenodactylus: rarely in contact), and colour (L. stenodactylus: background colour red-brown to orange-brown; this paper). The two species are geographically separated by c. 300 km.
From Lucasium alboguttatum (Werner, 1910), L. iris sp. nov. is distinguished by larger size (L. alboguttatum: up to 57 mm SVL; Storr et al. 1990), usually relatively shorter tail (L. alboguttatum: TL/SVL 0.78–1.06; Storr et al. 1990), and pattern (L. alboguttatum: an irregular pale mid-dorsal zone of blotches, bordered by large yellowish spots). The two species are geographically separated by c. 3,000 km.
From Lucasium bungabinna, L. iris sp. nov. is distinguished by generally larger size (L. bungabinna: up to 56 mm SVL; Doughty & Hutchinson 2008), and colour (L. bungabinna: cream and red-brown to orange-brown). The two species are geographically separated by c. 1,700 km.
From Lucasium byrnei (Lucas and Frost, 1896), L. iris sp. nov. is distinguished by larger size (L. byrnei: up to 56.5 mm SVL; Kluge 1967), pattern (L. byrnei: usually four irregular pale patches on the dorsal surface, often marked with dark spots occupying single scales), and dorsal and lateral scales homogeneous (L. byrnei: scales heterogeneous, numerous small conical tubercles present; Lucas & Frost 1896). The two species are geographically separated by c. 500 km.
From Lucasium damaeum (Lucas & Frost, 1896), L. iris sp. nov. is distinguished by larger size (L. damaeum: up to 55 mm SVL; Kluge 1967), larger apical lamellae (L. damaeum: not enlarged), and pattern (L. damaeum: usually large lateral pale spots). The two species are geographically separated by c. 550 km.
From Lucasium maini (Kluge, 1962), L. iris sp. nov. is distinguished by larger size (L. maini: up to 49 mm SVL; Kluge 1967), larger apical lamellae (L. maini: not, or only slightly, enlarged; Kluge 1962, 1967), and pattern (L. maini: an irregular pale mid-dorsal zone of blotches, bordered by large white spots that are paler than the mid-dorsal zone). The two species are geographically separated by c. 2,000 km.
From Lucasium occultum, L. iris sp. nov. is distinguished by larger size (L. occultum: c. 40–41 mm SVL; King et al. 1982; Wilson & Swan 2017), and pattern (L. occultum: four irregular pale greyish patches on the dorsal surface each roughly rectangular). The two species are geographically separated by c. 1,400 km.
From Lucasium squarrosum (Kluge, 1962), L. iris sp. nov. is distinguished by generally larger size (L. squarrosum: up to 57 mm SVL; Storr et al. 1990), and pattern (L. squarrosum: a zigzag or irregularly bordered vertebral stripe, bordered below by large pale spots). The two species are geographically separated by c. 2,200 km.
From Lucasium wombeyi (Storr, 1978), L. iris sp. nov. is distinguished by larger size (L. wombeyi: up to 54 mm SVL; Storr et al. 1990), and pattern (L. wombeyi: irregular, large, pale dorsal and lateral blotches often enclosing smaller yellowish spots). The two species are geographically separated by c. 2,300 km.
Features to distinguish L. iris sp. nov. from Diplodactylus vittatus (Figure 6D) are presented here because of their relatively close geographic proximity (c. 50 km; see Discussion). From D. vittatus, L. iris sp. nov. is distinguished by generally larger size (D. vittatus: up to c. 56 mm SVL; this paper), longer, narrower tail (D. vittatus: TL/ SVL 0.40–0.59; TW/TL 0.26–0.37; this paper), and the presence of precloacal pores in males (D. vittatus: absent) (Vanderduys et al. 2020).
|Comment||Sympatry: L. steindachneri, Diplodactylus platyurus, Heteronotia binoei, Lucasium immaculatum, Diplodactylus vittatus, Nephrurus asper, Amalosia rhombifer, Oedura castelnaui, O. argentea, Strophurus taeniatus, Gehyra dubia, G. einasleighensis.|
|Etymology||The specific epithet iris is in reference to the goddess Iris in Greek mythology. Iris was the goddess of the rainbow and was beautiful. The association with this gecko is that it too is beautiful. The name is used as a noun in apposition. Informally, the name is also a reference to the beautiful iris of this species.|
The common name of Gilbert Ground Gecko is chosen because of its location in the Gilbert Range, its proximity to the Gilbert River, and in reference to Gilberton Station, where it occurs
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