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Hemidactylus gramineus CERÍACO, BAUER, KUSAMBA, AGARWAL & GREENBAUM, 2021

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Subspecies 
Common NamesFrench: ‘Gecko de l’herbe
E: grass-dwelling tropical gecko 
SynonymHemidactylus gramineus CERÍACO, BAUER, KUSAMBA, AGARWAL & GREENBAUM 2021
Hemidactylus cf. nzingae — CERÍACO et al. 2020: 14
Hemidactylus sp. — CERÍACO et al. 2020: 19 
DistributionDemocratic Republic of Congo (Katanga; Kinshasa: Bombo- Lumene Reserve)

Type locality: bank of Lumene River, Bombo-Lumene Reserve (-4.420278, 16.046878, 548 m), Kinshasa Province, DRC.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. UTEP 22208 (field number ELI 1645; Figs. 1, 2), adult male, collected by Chifundera Kusamba and Wandege M. Muninga on 7 June 2013.
Paratype. UTEP 22209 (field number ELI 1674), adult male collected in Bombo-Lumene Reserve (-4.418438, 16.044208, 555 m), Kinshasa Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, collected by Chifundera Kusamba, Wandege M. Muninga, Mwenebatu M. Aristote, and Eli Greenbaum on 7 June 2013. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A small-sized Hemidactylus, maximum SVL 39.5 mm, with a short, blunt snout (Fig. 1). Dorsal pholidosis heterogeneous, with 12–14 irregularly arranged longitudinal rows of subtrihedral, striated, strongly keeled tubercles at midbody. Two well-developed pairs of postmentals, the inner pair longer than the outer pair, about half the size of the mental, and in contact behind the mental. Ventrolateral folds distinct, 23– 25 scale rows across midventer. Five divided scansors beneath first digit of both manus and pes, seven beneath fourth digit of manus, seven beneath the fourth digit of pes. Males with a continuous series of eight precloacal pores. Body dorsum grayish brown, bordered by irregular, squiggly, dark brown markings that are interrupted by pairs of light gray spots, bordered by a cream/tan band that passes from the tip of the snout through the eye to the upper portion of the flanks and onto the tail, with numerous whitish tubercles on the flanks (CERÍACO et al. 2021).

Coloration (in Life and Preservative). Vertebral region of dorsum grayish brown, bordered by irregular, squiggly, dark brown markings that are interrupted by pairs of light gray spots; the dark brown markings transition to chevrons on the tail. Crown of head with scattered, poorly defined brown markings that resemble irregular chevrons. A cream/tan band passes from the tip of the snout through the eye to the upper portion of the flanks and onto the tail, with numerous whitish tubercles on the flanks. The lower portion of the flanks has a grayish brown band that is bordered by numerous light gray or whitish tubercles. The lowest margin of the flanks is light brown with irregular brown markings, and transitions to the venter. Forelimbs and hind limbs grayish brown with irregular dark brown crossbars. Venter cream; palms and soles cream. In preservative the specimens look more brownish with the pattern not so clearly delimited (CERÍACO et al. 2021).

Variation. Variation in scalation and body measurements of the paratype of Hemidactylus gramineus sp. nov. is reported in Table 1. The paratype agrees almost entirely with the holotype, although its coloration is less contrasting than that of the holotype. Coloration of a tentatively assigned third specimen (based on a photo of a live specimen) from Mayongongo village [-4.19, 14.96, 368 m a.s.l.], Pool Department, Republic of Congo (Fig. 4), is nearly identical to that of the holotype (Fig. 2) (CERÍACO et al. 2021).

Comparison with West and Central African Congeners.—The newly described species can be morphologically distinguished from all of its regional congeners, including those occurring in the DRC and in the areas neighboring the western DRC: Gabon, Republic of the Congo, and Angola. Hemidactylus gramineus sp. nov. may be readily distinguished from H. ituriensis and Hemidactylus coalescens Wagner, Leaché and Fujita, 2014, by being much smaller (maximum [max] SVL 39.5 vs. 78 mm in H. coalescens and 89 mm in H. ituriensis) and in not having the typical dorsal crossbands that characterize these two species (and the H. fasciatus group as a whole). It may be distinguished from H. angulatus Hallowell, 1854 by having only 8 precloacal pores (vs. 20–46 uninterrupted precloacal-femoral pores in males), by having a lower number of tubercle rows on the dorsum (12–14 vs. 14–25), and by having small subcaudal scales (vs. transversely enlarged).
Hemidactylus gramineus sp. nov. is readily distinguished from H. kamdemtohami Bauer and Pauwels, 2002, and H. richardsonii (Gray, 1845) by the lack of basal digital webbing and from H. matschiei (Tornier, 1902) by having spiny tubercles on the dorsum and small subcaudal scales. It may be distinguished from H. steindachneri by lacking a longitudinal row of keeled tubercles on the ventrolateral border of the flanks, and from H. hecqui by not having the nostril in contact with the first supralabial, by having a relatively larger head depth (vs. flat head in H. hecqui), lower number of tubercle rows on the dorsum (12–14 vs. 16), by having fewer rows of ventral scales (23–25 vs. 26), and a higher number of precloacal-femoral pores in males (8 vs. 6).
Hemidactylus gramineus sp. nov. can be distinguished from H. longicephalus by having a lower number of tubercle rows on the dorsum (12–14 vs. 17–18), fewer granular scales between the dorsal tubercles (1–3 vs. 3–6), and fewer rows of ventral scales (23–25 vs. 30–33). It can be distinguished from H. paivae by its smaller size (max SVL 39.5 vs. 68.4 mm), a lower number of granular scales between the dorsal tubercles (1–3 vs. 4–9), and a lower number of rows of ventral scales (23–25 vs. 28–34).
Hemidactylus gramineus sp. nov. may be distinguished from H. benguellensis by a much lower number of precloacal femoral pores in males (8 vs. 23–33) and fewer granular scales between the dorsal tubercles (1–3 vs. 4–9). The new species can be distinguished from H. bayonii and H. vernayi by fewer granular scales between the dorsal tubercles (1–3 vs. 3–4), and fewer rows of ventral scales (23–25 vs. 28–32 in H. bayonii and 28–31 in H. vernayi). Hemidactylus gramineus sp. nov. is easily distinguishable from H. mabouia by its smaller size (max SVL 39.5 vs. 67.4 mm), lower number of precloacal femoral pores in males (8 vs. 28–39), fewer granular scales between the dorsal tubercles (1–3 vs. 5–10), and lower number of rows of ventral scales (23–25 vs. 34–37).
Hemidactylus gramineus sp. nov. can be distinguished from H. muriceus sensu stricto by a higher number of tubercle rows on the dorsum (12–14 vs. 7–12) and fewer granular scales between the dorsal tubercles (1–3 vs. 5–10). The new species can be distinguished from H. pseudomuriceus by having fewer precloacal femoral pores in males (8 vs. 14–17) and fewer granular scales between the dorsal tubercles (1–3 vs. 5–10). The newly described species can be distinguished from H. echinus by its lack of two rows of scattered spiny tubercles on the ventral side of the tail (a character that differentiates H. echinus from all other known Hemidactylus), and by being smaller (max SVL 39.5 vs. 68.0 mm). Hemidactylus gramineus sp. nov. differs from H. ansorgii by a lower number of precloacal femoral pores (8 vs. 10– 11) and a stockier body (H. ansorgii has a slender body and narrow head with a short interorbital distance). Hemidactylus ansorgii also has a row of pointed tubercles separating the venter and the flanks, which are completely devoid of any tubercles (see figures in Tornier, 1902; Perret, 1975), whereas in H. gramineus sp. nov. this ventrolateral row of tubercles is lacking, and its tubercles extend across the flanks and dorsum.
Hemidactylus gramineus sp. nov. can be distinguished from H. nzingae by having a lower number of tubercle rows on the dorsum (12–14 vs. 16–21) and by having irregular, undulate, dark brown markings that are interrupted by pairs of dorsal light gray spots (vs. well-marked series of dark-brown continuous ‘‘W-shaped’’ transverse markings from occiput to sacrum in H. nzingae); the new species can be distinguished from H. hannasabinae by having a lower number of tubercle rows on the dorsum (12–14 vs. 16–18), by having strongly keeled, striated tubercles at midbody (vs. smoothly keeled in H. hannasabinae), and by being smaller (max SVL 39.5 vs. 47.4 mm) (CERÍACO et al. 2021). 
Comment 
EtymologyThe specific epithet ‘‘gramineus’’ refers to the grassy type of habitat from which the species was collected in the DRC and the Republic of the Congo (Fig. 5) and is applied here as an adjective in the genitive singular. 
References
  • Ceríaco, L. M., Bauer, A. M., Kusamba, C., Agarwal, I., & Greenbaum, E. 2021. A New Species of Ground-Dwelling Hemidactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Southwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Journal of Herpetology 55 (2): 105-111 - get paper here
  • CERÍACO, LUIS M. P.; ISHAN AGARWAL, MARIANA P. MARQUES, AARON M. BAUER 2020. A review of the genus Hemidactylus Goldfuss, 1820 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Angola, with the description of two new species. Zootaxa 4746 (1): 1-71. - get paper here
  • Lobón-Rovira, J., Conradie, W., Buckley Iglesias, D., Ernst, R., Veríssimo, L., Baptista, N., & Pinto, P. V. 2021. Between sand, rocks and branches: an integrative taxonomic revision of Angolan Hemidactylus Goldfuss, 1820, with description of four new species. Vertebrate Zoology 71: 465–501; DOI 10.3897/vz.73.e64781 - get paper here
 
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