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Matoatoa brevipes (MOCQUARD, 1900)

IUCN Red List - Matoatoa brevipes - Vulnerable, VU

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos) 
Common Names 
SynonymPhyllodactylus brevipes MOCQUARD 1900: 346
Phyllodactylus porphyreus brevipes — KLUGE 1993
Phyllodactylus brevipes — GLAW & VENCES 1994: 264
Matoatoa brevipes — NUSSBAUM, RAXWORTHY & PRONK 1998
Matoatoa brevipes — HEINICKE et al. 2014 
DistributionMadagascar (Toliara)

Type locality: Ambolisatra, Madagascar [probably today’s Ambolisaka, 10 km SE of Morombe, Toliara Province].  
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 1899.0341 (specimen damaged by fire) 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Phyllodactyle gekkonines that have second ceratobranchials; fused nasals bones; pre cloacal pores in males; rugose or ornamented snout bones (premaxillae, maxillae, nasals, prefrontals, anterior frontal) strongly adhering to overlying skin; smooth postorbital skull bones not strongly adherent to overlying skin; homogeneous, flattened, smooth body scales arranged in parallel transverse rings; nonimbricate ventral scales; adhesive tail tip in which scansorial scales are not differentiated into distinct ventral pad, but rather consist of pilose scales of-normal size and shape that nearly or completely encircle tail tip.
CommentListed as synonym of Phyllodactylus porphyreus porphyreus by WERMUTH 1965 (who cites ANGEL 1942 and GUIBÉ 1956 as sources).
SVL up to 40 mm.

Type Species: Phyllodactylus brevipes MOCQUARD 1900 is the type species of the genus Matoatoa NUSSBAUM, RAXWORTHY & PRONK 1998.

Definition. Matoatoa is distinguishable from all other geckos based on the following combination of characters: size moderate (40–58 mm max. SVL), with a narrow head, a long, tubular body, unusually short limbs and long neck, and round, thick, tapering, prehensile tail with scansorial scales encircling the tip but no subcaudal pad. Dig- its are free and bear a single pair of dilated terminal adhesive pads (‘leaf toes’); claws present on all digits. Body scalation consists of flat, beadlike granules arranged in transverse rings. Preanal pores are present; 1–3 cloacal spurs are present. The eye bears a vertical pupil with cre- nate margins. The skull displays prominent co-ossification with the overlying skin, especially on the nasals. Nasals are fused; frontal single; parietal paired; stapes imperfo- rate; 14 scleral ossicles; 11 premaxillary and approxi- mately 30 dentary teeth; hyoid with second ceratobranchial cartilages. There are 26 presacral verte- brae and one pair of very small cloacal bones. The phalan- geal formula is 2-3-4-5-3 (manus)/2-3-4-5-4 (pes); paraphalangeal elements are absent.
Matoatoa brevipes exhibits the following non-homoplastic apomorphic characters: raised sculpturing of der- mal bones (11-2, Fig. 10); broad contact between prefrontal and nasal (85-2, Fig. 10); postorbitofrontal fora- men present (94-0, Fig. 10); basipterygoid process not expanded distally (261-1, Fig. 20); bulge of anterior ampulla on brain case wall approaches the crista alaris (284-1, Fig. 15); posterior marginal teeth strongly tapering and pointed (not peg-like) (385-1).
Among leaf-toed geckos, cranial co-ossification is otherwise only known in some species of the relatively dis- tantly related Malagasy/Comoroan genus Paroedura. In addition, the arrangement of body scales in distinct transverse rings is unique among leaf-toed geckos and the extreme slenderness of the quadrate (Figs 15, 20) is exceptional among geckos as a whole [HEINICKE et al. 2014]

Habitat: dry, open, spiny forests, generally on sandy coastal soils. Also in more mesic, denser forests near boies of water. Often found inside hollow, dead branches of standing trees. 
EtymologyEtymology (genus): Named after the Malagasy word “matoatoa” meaning ghost, in reference to the elusive, mysterious, and secretive nature of the two species.

Etymology: Named after Latin “brevis, -e” = short and “pes, pedis” = foot. 
  • Angel, F. 1942. Les Lézards de Madagascar. Mem. Acad. Malagache, Tananarive XXXVI: 193 pp.
  • Glaw ,F. & Vences, M. 1994. A Fieldguide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Vences & Glaw Verlag, Köln (ISBN 3-929449-01-3)
  • Guibé, J. 1956. Revision des espèces du genre Phyllodactylus Gray. Mem. Inst. Sci. Madagascar ser. A., 10: 245-250
  • Heinicke, Matthew P.; Juan D. Daza, Eli Greenbaum, Todd R. Jackman & Aaron M. Bauer 2014. Phylogeny, taxonomy and biogeography of a circum-Indian Ocean clade of leaf-toed geckos (Reptilia: Gekkota), with a description of two new genera. Systematics and Biodiversity 12 (1): 23-42, DOI:10.1080/14772000.2013.877999 - get paper here
  • Kluge,A.G. & Nussbaum,R.A. 1995. A review of African-Madagascan gekkonid lizard phylogeny and biogeography (Squamata). Misc. Pub. Mus. Zool. Univ. Michigan 183: 1-20 - get paper here
  • Mocquard, F. 1900. Diagnose d'espéces nouvelles de Reptiles de Madagascar. Bull. Mus. nat. Hist. nat., Paris 6: 345- 348. - get paper here
  • Nussbaum R.A., RAXWORTHY C.J. & PRONK,O. 1998. The ghost geckos of Madagascar: a further revision of the Malagasy leaf-toed geckos (Reptilia, Squamata, Gekkonidae). Misc. Publ. Mus. Zool. Univ. Michigan 186: 1-26 - get paper here
  • Schönecker, P. & Böhle, A. 2004. Die Geckogattungen Madagaskars. Draco 5 (19): 56-67 - get paper here
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