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Hemidactylus fragilis CALABRESI, 1915

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common Names 
SynonymHemidactylus fragilis CALABRESI 1915: 236
Hemidactylus fragilis — LANZA 1983
Pnoepus fragilis — WELLS & WELLINGTON 1985
Hemidactylus fragilis — LANZA 1990
Hemidactylus fragilis — MAZUCH et al. 2016 
DistributionSomalia (Rahanuin Region), Ethiopia (Dolo)

Type locality: ‘Bur Meldac [=Meel Daaq]’, ca. 219 m elevation  
TypesHolotype: MZUF 707; adult male 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Hemidactylus fragilis can be distinguished from H. frenatus, with which it has been synonymized, by the following characters (condition in H. frenatus in parentheses): smaller size with max. SVL 37.2 mm (versus 50–60 mm); subimbricate dorsal scales (versus juxtaposed); few scattered enlarged tubercles on caudal part of flanks in one or two rows on each side (Fig. 5C) (versus enlarged dorsal tubercles in irregular rows, usually well developed posteriorly); larger dorsal scales, 11–12 in eye diameter (versus smaller, 15–17 in eye diameter); less elongated anterior postmentals, length to width ratio 1.35–1.66 (versus 1.62–2.6; Fig. 5F,G); 8–9 gular scales in the first row behind postmentals (versus 12–15; Fig. 5F,G); color pattern composed of dark transverse bands on dorsum (versus pattern lacking transverse bands, usually longitudinally striped or patternless; Fig. 5B,C,D,E). Morphological differences between the two species are summarized in Table 2 (Mazuch et al. 2016).
CommentSynonymy: Hemidactylus fragilis has been synonymized with H. frenatus by Loveridge 1947, but resurrected by Mazuch et al. 2016.

Hemidactylus fragilis has the following combination of morphological characters: (1) small size with maximum recorded SVL 31.5 mm for the male and 37.2 mm for females (Fig. 5B,C,D); (2) dorsum with subimbricate scales (Fig. 5H) with a few enlarged, smooth, flat tubercles on flanks of posterior half of body, usually in one or two rows on each side; (3) no enlarged tubercles on postero-dorsal side of thighs; (4) subcaudals slightly enlarged only on first three whorls; (5) six enlarged tubercles on each whorl of the tail (Fig. 5E); (6) tail conical without basal constriction (Fig. 5D); (7) 26 preano-femoral pores in the male; (8) three lamellae under the 1st, five under the 3rd, seven under the 4th toe; (9) 7–8 infralabials and 8–9 supralabials; (10) snout forming a convex line between eye and nostril in lateral view; (11) anterior postmentals in narrow median contact (Fig. 5G); (12) anterior postmentals only in contact with first infralabials (Fig. 5G); (13) length to width ratio of anterior postmentals 1.35–1.66; (14) 8–9 gulars in the first row behind postmentals (Fig. 5G); (15) four dark transverse bands on dorsum between axilla and groin, one on neck and one on occiput; distinct dark line from nostrils through eyes and ear openings to shoulder region and continuing diffusely to inguinal region; three dark bands on dorsum of anterior half of the tail (Fig. 5B,C,D,E, Mazuch et al. 2016).

Hemidactylus fragilis differs as follows from the species that can be found or are expected to occur in the Horn of Africa: Hemidactylus angulatus, H. arnoldi, H. awashensis, H. barbierii, H. barodanus, H. bavazzanoi, H. citernii, H. granchii, H. jubensis, H. laevis, H. laticaudatus, H. mabouia, H. macropholis, H. mercatorius, H. mrimaensis, H. platycephalus, H. puccionii, H. robustus, H. ruspolii, H. sinaitus, H. smithi, H. taylori, and H. yerburii pauciporosus have enlarged dorsal tubercles on the whole dorsum, nape and head. Hemidactylus somalicus does not have depressed body habitus, has very small proximal subdigital lamellae, scarcely larger than the granules on the sole, tail without enlarged tubercles, and first supralabial excluded from nostril. Hemidactylus albopunctatus, H. funaiolii, H. isolepis, H. klauberi, H. megalops, H. modestus, H. ophiolepis, and H. ophiolepoides have homogenous dorsal scales and weakly developed subdigital lamellae, head short and not depressed, and tail without enlarged tubercles. Hemidactylus barbouri, H. squamulatus, and H. tropidolepis have heterogeneous dorsal scales without tubercles, some or all scales are keeled, well developed enlarged tubercles on nape and occiput, and head and body not depressed. Hemidactylus flaviviridis is larger (maximum SVL about 95 mm), has swollen, carrot-shaped tail clearly constricted at its base, and dorsal scales small, granular and juxtaposed. Hemidactylus curlei has swollen, carrot-shaped tail clearly constricted at its base, scales on tail large, sub-imbricate and without enlarged tubercles, no enlarged tubercles in sacral region, and males with 4 precloacal pores (Mazuch et al. 2016). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is derived from the Latin word frenum, meaning "bridle or bit." 
  • Calabresi, E. 1915. Contributo alla conoscenza dei rettili della Somalia. Monitore Zoologico Italiano (supplemento), 28:234—247. - get paper here
  • Lanza, B. 1983. A list of the Somali amphibians and reptiles. MONITORE ZOOLOGICO ITALIANO, new Ser., SUPPL. 18 (8): 193-247 - get paper here
  • Lanza, B. 1990. Amphibians and reptiles of the Somali Democratic Republic: check list and biogeography. Biogeographia, 14: 407-465 [1988] - get paper here
  • Loveridge, A. 1947. Revision of the African lizards of the family Gekkondiae. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 98: 1-469 - get paper here
  • MAZUCH, TOMÁŠ; JIŘÍ ŠMÍD & AARON M. BAUER 2016. Rediscovery and a new record of Hemidactylus laevis (Reptilia: Gekkonidae) from Somaliland, with notes on and resurrection of Hemidactylus fragilis. Zootaxa 4117 (4): 529–542 - get paper here
  • Wells, R. W. and Wellington, C. R. 1985. A classification of the Amphibia and Reptilia of Australia. Australian Journal of Herpetology, Supplementary Series (1): 1-61 [sometimes cited as 1983] - get paper here
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