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Gonatodes machelae RIVERO-BLANCO & SCHARGEL, 2020

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Higher TaxaSphaerodactylidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common Names 
SynonymGonatodes machelae RIVERO-BLANCO & SCHARGEL 2020
Gonatodes fuscus — MARCUZZI 1950: 82 [misidentification]
Gonatodes cf. condifentatus [sic] — MARCUZZI 1950: 247
Gonatodes ocellatus ? — ROZE 1964: 230 [tentative identification]
Gonatodes ocellatus — DONOSO-BARROS 1968: 108 [misidentification]
Gonatodes sp. — RIVAS et al. 2005: 348
Gonatodes sp. — UGUETO & RIVAS 2010: 143 
DistributionVenezuela (Margarita Island)

Type locality: road to the summit of Cerro El Copey (ca. 675 m), Parque Nacional Cerro El Copey, Margarita Island, Nueva Es- parta, Venezuela (11° 00’25’’N, 63° 53’50’’W).  
TypesHolotype. MHNLS 9164 (Fig. 1), an adult male collected by M. Ristorto and M. Ameruoso, April 18, 1983.
Paratypes. All from the road to the summit of Cerro El Copey, at altitudes between 450 and 900 m. EBRG 1583 (unsexed juvenile) collected ca. 750 m by Ramon Rivero on 21 July 1982. EBRG 1584 (♂) collected ca. 770 m by Ramon Rivero on 9 October 1982. EBRG 1585 (♂) collected ca. 550 m by Ramon Rivero on 12 October 1982. MHNLS 9165 (♂), MHNLS 9166 (♂), MHNLS 9167 (♂), MHNLS 9168 (♂), MHNLS 9169 (♂), MHNLS 9170 (♂), MHNLS 9171 (♂), all collected ca. 675 m by M. Ristorto and M. Ameruoso on 18 April 1983. MHNLS 16702 (♀), MHNLS 16703 (♀), MHNLS 16704 (♂), MHNLS 16705 (♂), MHNLS 16706 (♂), MHNLS 16707 (♂), MHNLS 16708 (♂), all collected 600–900 m by Gilson Rivas and Walter Schargel on 10 July 2004. TCWC 54126 (♂), TCWC 54127 (unsexed juvenile), TCWC 54128 (unsexed juvenile), TCWC 54129 (unsexed juvenile), TCWC 54130 (♀), TCWC 54131 (♀), TCWC 54132 (♂), TCWC 54133 (♂), TCWC 514134 (♀), TCWC 54135 (♀), TCWC 54136 (♂), TCWC 54137 (♀), TCWC 54138 (♂), TCWC 54139 (♂), TCWC 54140 (♀), TCWC 54141 (♀), all collected 450–900 m by Carlos Rivero-Blanco on 1 July 1976. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Gonatodes machelae differs from the medium (max SVL 42–49 mm) and large (max SVL > 49 mm) species in the genus (see Rivero-Blanco and Schargel 2012), namely G. alexandermendesi Cole & Kok, 2006, G. annularis Boulenger, 1887, G. astralis Schargel, Rivas, Makowsky, Señaris, Natera, Barros, Molina & Barrio-Amorós, 2010, G. ceciliae Donoso-Barros, 1966, G. concinnatus, G. infernalis Rivas & Schargel, 2008, G. falconensis Shreve, 1947, G. hasemani Griffin, 1917, G. lichenosus Rojas-Runjaic, Infante-Rivero, Cabello & Velozo, 2010, G. nascimentoi Sturaro & Avila-Pires, 2011, G. ocellatus, G. purpurogularis Esqueda, 2004, G. riveroi Sturaro & Avila-Pires, 2011, G. rozei Rivero-Blanco & Schargel, 2012, G. seigliei Donoso-Barros, 1966, G. superciliaris Barrio-Amorós & Brewer-Carías, 2008, G. taniae, Roze, 1963, G. tapajonicus Rodrigues, 1980, and G. timidus Kok, 2011, in having a small size, not exceeding 34.0 mm in SVL. Gonatodes machelae further differs from all these species, except G. alexandermendesi, G. infernalis, G. superciliaris and G. timidus, in having subcaudal pattern type C (see Rivero-Blanco and Schargel 2012). From G. alexandermendesi, G. infernalis, G. superciliaris and G. timidus, it further differs by having gular scales gradually transitioning posteriorly from larger polygonal scales to smaller granular/subconical (Fig. 1) as opposed to gular scales sharply transitioning posteriorly into smaller granular scales (see Rivero-Blanco and Schargel 2012 for an illustration of this character). From the small species in the genus, G. machelae differs from G. albogularis (Duméril & Bibron, 1836), G. antillensis (Lidth de Jeude, 1887), G. atricucullaris, Noble, 1921, G. caudiscutatus, G. daudini Powell & Henderson, 2005, G. humeralis (Guichenot, 1855), G. ligiae Donoso-Barros, 1967, G. petersi Donoso-Barros, 1967, and G. vittatus (Lichtenstein & Martens, 1856) in having subcaudal pattern type C. From G. naufragus Rivas, Ugueto, Schargel, Barros, Velozo, & Sánchez, 2013, it differs by having a much higher number of scales around midbody (78–100 vs. 52–53), and a round pupil as opposed to elliptical, and more lamellae under the fourth finger (17–21 vs. 10–11) and fourth toe (21–25 vs. 12–14). From G. eladioi Do Nascimento, Avila-Pires & Da Cunha, 1987, the new species differs in having more lamellae under the fourth finger (17–21 vs. 12–14) and fourth toe (21–25 vs. 14–16), and having in males an inconspicuous vertebral stripe that extends posteriorly from the parietal area as opposed to a distinct vertebral stripe that extends posteriorly from the rostral scale. Finally, males of G. machelae have a bright yellow hood in life that is not present in G. naufragus or G. eladioi, but this color fades quickly in preservative limiting the value of this character when examining preserved specimens. 
CommentGonatodes machelae is parapatric with the similar sized G. vittatus, which occurs at lower elevations throughout Margarita Island. The altitudinal replacement of the two species is strikingly noticeable with no areas of wide sympatry observed. When walking up the road to the summit of Cerro El Copey the complete replacement of the two species was observed in a short transect of about 100 m. It seems G. machelae competitively excludes G. vittatus from the higher elevations of Cerro El Copey given that G. vittatus is known to occur at higher elevations in other localities (e.g. Caracas) and in similarly open habitats (Rivero-Blanco 1979). 
EtymologyThe new species is dedicated by one of the authors (CRB) to Machela, his wife for 53 years and counting, in recognition to her support while studying different species of Gonatodes in the field, including the new species in Cerro El Copey. 
  • Donoso-Barros, R. 1968. The lizards of Venezuela (checklist and key). Carib. J. Sci. 8 (3-4): 105-122
  • Marcuzzi, G. 1950. Notas preliminares sobre la fauna y flora de la Isla de Margarita. Memoria de la Sociedad de Ciencias naturales de La Salle, 10 (27): 207–256
  • Marcuzzi, G. 1950. Breves apuntes sobre algunos lagartos de Venezuela septentrional. Memoria de la Sociedad de Ciencias Naturales La Salle, 26: 73−110
  • Rivas Fuenmayor, G.; Ugueto, G.; Rivero, R. & Miralles, A. 2005. The Herpetofauna of Isla de Margarita, Venezuela: New Records and Comments. Carib. J. Sci. 41 (2): 346-351
  • Rivero-Blanco, C. 1979. The Neotropical lizard genus Gonatodes Fitzinger (Sauria: Sphaerodactylinae). Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station. 233 pp.
  • RIVERO-BLANCO, CARLOS; WALTER E. SCHARGEL 2020. A new diurnal gecko in the genus Gonatodes (Squamata: Sphaerodactylidae) from Margarita Island, Venezuela. Zootaxa 4729 (3): 429–439 - get paper here
  • Roze, J.A. 1964. La herpetologia de la Isla de Margarita, Venezuela. Soc. de Cienc. Natur. 'La Salle', Caracas, Mem. 24(69): 209-241.
  • Ugueto, G.N. & Rivas, G.A. 2010. Amphibians and Reptiles of Margarita, Coche and Cubagua. Frankfurt Contributions to Natural History, Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main, 350 pp
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