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Toropuku inexpectatus HITCHMOUGH, NIELSEN & BAUER, 2020

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Higher TaxaDiplodactylidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common Names 
SynonymToropuku inexpectatus HITCHMOUGH, NIELSEN & BAUER 2020
Hoplodactylus stephensi — WHITAKER et al. 1999 (part)
Hoplodactylus aff. stephensi “Coromandel” — HITCHMOUGH et al. 2010 Toropuku “Coromandel” HITCHMOUGH et al. 2013 
DistributionNew Zealand (North Island, N Coromandel Peninsula)

Type locality: road through forest near Port Charles, Coromandel Peninsula, Waikato, New Zealand.  
TypesHolotype. NMNZ (given as MONZ) RE.006939, adult female (Fig. 2), collected on 3 August 1999 by A. Wright.
Paratype. Adult male paratype NMNZ (= MONZ) RE.006938, (Fig. 4), collected inside a house near regenerating forest on outskirts of Coromandel township, Coromandel Peninsula, Waikato, New Zealand, on 9 March 1997 by G. Jacobsen. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Toropuku inexpectatus sp. nov. may be distinguished from T. stephensi by its conical rather than domed scales in the frontal region, more gracile build, longer tail (1.32 x snout-vent length versus 0.97-1.27), longer snout, broader head, and lower number of precloacal (5 versus 6–9) and femoral (2–3 versus 4–5) pore rows. It also exhibits a substantial genetic divergence (2.6% 16S, 6.6% ND2) from its insular congener. The colour pattern typically shows more prominent fine darker streaks on the dorsal surface and limbs than in T. stephensi, but pattern varies in both species. The markings on the dorsal surface of the head between and behind the eyes also differ. In T. stephensi two straight bars are separated from the mid-nasal stripe and each other (converge posteriorly but do not meet). In T. inexpectatus sp. nov. the mid-nasal stripe usually continues back past the eyes, expanding then contracting to a point (rarely with a curved, v-shaped marking largely separate from the mid-nasal stripe, but with no central space posteriorly).

Colour in life. Dorsally, cool greyish brown overlain with a dense pattern of narrow darker streaks, which extend over the limbs and digits (Fig. 4). Paired, strongly contrasting light greyish-buff longitudinal dorsolateral stripes with superimposed very narrow darker streaks, stripes uniform in width on the body, narrowing towards the tip of the original tail. Very narrow pale middorsal stripe on body only, and similar mid-lateral stripes extending well down the tail. Head boldly patterned with darker markings on a pale background the same colour as the dorsolateral stripes. Dark chestnut lateral stripe runs from around the nostril, through the eye and back to continue as the dark upper lateral band on the body. A medial dark stripe on the dorsal surface of the snout broadens just behind the eyes then quickly narrows to terminate in a point. Behind this the dark dorsal band and narrow mid-dorsal stripe begin quite broadly in an anchor shape, narrowing on the neck. Belly light, warmer buff with narrow darker streaks; belly skin creamy beige, completely opaque. Mouth lining orange around the lips and in corners of the mouth, interior pink, throat greyish, tongue pink with dark tip.

Variation: Some specimens photographed in the field are more golden brown in colour tone, and the degree of fine, darker streaking varies. 
EtymologyToropuku inexpectatus sp. nov. is named for the unexpectedness of its discovery in an area with an already well-known herpetofauna, strongly disjunct from the known range of its close sister species and in the absence of populations on nearby pest-free islands where other lizard species now extinct or rare on the mainland remain abundant. Toropuku was stated to be interpreted as masculine for the purposes of name formation (Nielsen et al. 2011); the specific epithet, being adjectival, therefore also has a masculine ending. 
  • Hitchmough, R. A., Hoare, J.M., Jamieson, H., Newman, D., Tocher, M.D. and Anderson, P. J. 2010. Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, 2009. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 37 (3): 203-224 - get paper here
  • HITCHMOUGH, R. A., NIELSEN, S. V., & BAUER, A. M. 2020. Earning your stripes: a second species of striped gecko in the New Zealand gecko genus Toropuku (Gekkota: Diplodactylidae). Zootaxa, 4890 (4): 578-588 - get paper here
  • Hitchmough, R., Anderson, P., Barr, B., Monks, J., Lettink, M., Reardon, J., Tocher, M. & Whitaker, T. 2013. Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, 2012. In: New Zealand Threat Classification Series 2. Department of Conservation, Wellington, pp. 1–16
  • Whitaker, T., Hitchmough, R. & Chappell, R. 1999. A striped gecko (Hoplodactylus stephensi) at Coromandel. Conservation Advisory Science Notes. No. 232. Department of Conservation, Wellington, (2) + 17 pp
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