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Oedura luritja OLIVER & MCDONALD, 2016

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Higher TaxaDiplodactylidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos) 
Common NamesMereenie velvet gecko 
SynonymOedura luritja OLIVER & MCDONALD 2016 
DistributionAustralia (Northern Territory)

Type locality: Gorge 300 m east of north end of Boggy Hole (−24.13455°, 132.86574°), Finke Gorge National Park, Northern Territory, collected 5 October 2015 by P.J.M. and P.M.O.  
TypesHolotype: NTM R37528, field number CCM5974, adult male with regrown tail, and liver samples stored in ethanol.
Paratypes: All from Northern Territory (n = 11). NTM R37529 (CCM5975) near Boggy Hole (−24.1351, 132.86351), Finke Gorge National Park, collected 5 October 2015; NTM R37531 (CCM5979) Palm Creek (−24.05449, 132.74246), Finke Gorge National Park; NTM R37530 (CCM5978) Palm Creek (−24.0584, 132.76151), Finke Gorge National Park, collected 6 October 2015; AMS R52143 Kings Canyon (−24.27, 131.57), Watarka National Park, collected 28 July 1975; AMS R52144–50 Reedy Springs (−24.30, 131.58), Watarka National Park, collected 28 July 1975. 
CommentDiagnosis: A moderately large (to 99 mm SVL) species of Oedura with a moderately wide (HW/SVL 0.17–0.20) and flat head (HD/SVL 0.072–0.091), tail moderately long (original TL/SVL 0.65–0.87), narrow (TW/SVL 0.07–0.11), distinctly narrower than head and body and tapering gradually to a tip, rostral less than 50% divided, postcloacal spur usually single (22 out of 23 specimens), 10–16 precloacal pores in adult males, dorsal scales small (less than 0.5 mm in diameter), head brown with light flecking but with no trace of a light canthal stripe or dark-brown postorbital or nuchal stripes, and dorsal coloration of adults usually including five to six moderately well-defined light bands or transverse blotches (yellow in life) on a purplish brown background.

Comparisons: Similar in overall proportions to and has been confounded with Oedura cincta (both central and eastern populations) but can be distinguished by its shorter rostral crease (less than 50% divided versus fully divided). Further differs from both Oedura cincta and Oedura fimbria (Western Australia) in head and tail proportions (see Results and electronic supplementary material, table S3), in its smaller body scales (mid-dorsal scales on adults<0.5mm wide versus>0.5mm wide), in generally single cloacal spur (22 out of 23 specimens examined) (versus up to 3), in generally lacking obvious light canthal stripes, brown postorbital stripes and brown nuchal bands (versus present), and in generally retaining strong and distinctly edged dorsal bands into adulthood (versus much more indistinct or absent) (figure 4 in OLIVER & MCDONALD 2016).
Differs from Oedura bella and members of the Oedura gemmata-marmorata species complex from northern Australia in possessing a longer tail (TL/SVL 0.65–0.87 versus 0.49–0.65 and 0.53–0.63, respectively) that is also narrower (always narrower than the head versus as wide or wider), and by generally having just one clocal spur (versus 2–3).
Differs from Oedura gracilis (Kimberley region) by its moderately long tail (versus very long (approaching length of body)) and flared lamellae series on fingers and toes 2–5 (versus tapering); and from Oedura filicipoda and Oedura murrumanu in having narrower proximal lamellae on fingers 3–4 (not wider than the apical lamellae versus distinctly wider), and further differs from the former species in having a narrow tail that is not wider than the head and near circular in cross-section (versus wider and very flattened).
Distinguished from the remaining Oedura in eastern Australia (here referred to as the tryoni group) by its dorsal colour pattern consisting of 5–6 distinct to indistinct narrow light bands with poorly defined light flecking (versus wide pale V-shaped transverse bands in Oedura castelnaui, distinct dark-edged ocelli or transverse bands of varying size in Oedura coggeri, Oedura monilis and Oedura tryoni, or two pale bands across the nape and base of tail in Oedura jowalbinna). It also has a less swollen tail than Oedura castelnaui, and is larger (SVL up 99 mm) than Oedura coggeri (70 mm) and Oedura jowalbinna (69 mm).

Habitat: sandstone ranges of the southern MRB, generally found in association with deep but tight cracks under exfoliating sandstone, often near exposed vertical faces, and retreat into these if threatened.

Sympatry: Gehyra moritzi, Gehyra versicolor, Heteronotia binoei and Nephrurus amyae. 
EtymologyLuritja is a collective name for people speaking several dialects of the Aboriginal Western Desert language. The western parts of the distribution of Oedura luritja (including Watarrka National Park) are in Luritja lands. Luritja is also believed to be derived from the Arrernte word ‘Ulerenye’ meaning foreigner or stranger, and is therefore further appropriate for such a deeply divergent lineage. Used as a noun in apposition. 
  • Oliver PM, McDonald PJ. 2016. Young relicts and old relicts: a novel palaeoendemic vertebrate from the Australian Central Uplands. R. Soc. open sci. 3: 160018 - get paper here
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