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Hemidactylus mrimaensis MALONZA & BAUER, 2014

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common NamesE: Kaya Gecko 
SynonymHemidactylus mrimaensis MALONZA & BAUER 2014
Hemidactylus mrimaensis — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 92 
Distributioncoastal Kenya

Type locality: Kaya Mrima Forest (04°29.286’S, 039°15.821’E; 257 m elevation)  
TypesHolotype: NMK L3397, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi) (Field Number JN0115) adult female collected on 29 August 2010 by Patrick K. Malonza & Joash Nyamache. Paratypes. NMK-L3233/4 (PK139), L3233/5 (PK140), L3233/2 (PK105), L3233/3 (PK103) females; NMK- L3233/1 (PK101) adult male collected on 24 October 2009, in Kaya Jibana Forest (03°50.624’S, 039°40.155’E; 309 m elevation). NMK-L3240/3 (PK034), L3240/7 (PK064) adult males; NMK-L3240/5 (PK027), L3240/4 (PK031), L3240/2 (PK030), L3240/1 (PK001), L3240/6 (PK066) females collected 17–19 October 2009 at same locality as holotype. All specimens collected by Patrick K. Malonza & Joash Nyamache. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A small-sized Hemidactylus, with males reaching 42 mm SVL and females 50 mm. Dorsal scalation heterogeneous with enlarged, regularly-arranged, keeled tubercles in 11–14 longitudinal rows (Fig. 2). Two well developed postmentals, the inner pair larger and in extensive contact behind the triangular mental, which is entire. Infralabials 8–9, supralabials 9–10. Four scansors beneath first toe, eight beneath fourth toe, all but distalmost divided (Fig. 3A). Original tail depressed, oval in transverse section, slightly constricted at base, tapering to a fine point; enlarged tubercles on the tail pointed and larger than those on the dorsum (Fig. 3B), subcaudal scales with median row of enlarged scutes (Fig. 3C).
Hemidactylus mrimaensis sp. nov. may be distinguished from all other Kenyan congeners by a number of species or group specific characters. It may be differentiated from most of the terrestrial species by its long and tapering tail and gracile body, as opposed to a thick, short tail and relatively stout body. Unlike Hemidactylus mrimaensis sp. nov., H. modestus, H. isolepis and H. funaiolli have homogenous dorsal scales. H. squamulatus, H. barbouri and H. tropidolepis do not have enlarged tubercles and their small heterogeneous dorsal scales are not arranged in regular rows. Among the arboreal species, H. angulatus, H. macropholis and H. ruspolii have enlarged tubercles that are strongly keeled on the back and tail. In addition, H. macropholis is fairly large (80 mm maximum SVL versus 50 mm), whereas H. angulatus in addition has a thick tail, and in H. ruspolii the original tail exhibits a striking basal constriction. Hemidactylus mrimaensis sp. nov. may be distinguished from its sympatric and phenetically similar congener H. platycephalus, by its smaller size (max SVL 50 mm versus 94 mm), slender body and distinctive brown-golden coloration, as well as the lower number of male precloacal-femoral pores (34 versus 45–57). The new species is most similar to another large (SVL up to 70 mm) sympatric species, H. mabouia. The dorsal part of the thighs and arms of Hemidactylus mrimaensis sp. nov. have enlarged scattered tubercles in contrast to the those of H. mabouia which are smooth. In addition, the digits (of both manus and pes) of H. mabouia are stout, whereas those of H. mrimaensis sp. nov. are relatively slender. It is also noteworthy that the body and tail tubercles of the latter species are more prominent, with the caudal tubercles particularly large and spiny in comparison to H. mabouia. In general habitus, Hemidactylus mrimaensis sp. nov. is similar to forest geckos in the genus Cnemaspis Strauch, although, of course, it differs in all aspects of pholidosis and digital structure from these geckos.

Variation. Mensural data for the type series and additional material is given in Table 1. All the paratypes generally resemble the holotype. The paratypes are all in general good condition with some showing clear dorsal dark marks. Venter in some with dark spots. Some specimens have twisted bodies and a few (NMK-L3240/7, L3240/4, L3233/2) have part of the tail missing. All have their mouths closed. Range of supralabials (9–10) and infralabials (8–9). The scales across the belly range from 21 to 25. The enlarged dorsal tubercle rows vary from 11– 14 in both males and females. There is sexual dimorphism in size. Females are larger in body length and girth than males (maximum SVL 50 versus 42 mm), but there is no well-marked sexual dichromatism. Males have a continuous series of 32–34 precloacal pores (L3240/3 — 17/17; L3240/7 and L3233/1 — 16/16).
CommentBehavior: cathemeral

Sympatry: H. mabouia, Lygodactylus picturatus, L. mombasicus. 
EtymologyThe specific epithet mrimaensis is derived from the Kaya Mrima forest where the first specimen of the new gecko was collected. 
  • MALONZA, PATRICK K. & AARON M. BAUER 2014. A new species of arboreal forest-dwelling gecko (Hemidactylus: Squamata: Gek- konidae) from coastal Kenya, East Africa. Zootaxa 3786 (2): 192–200 - get paper here
  • Malonza, Patrick K.; David M. Mulwa, Joash O. Nyamache, Georgina Jones 2017. Biogeography of the Shimba Hills ecosystem herpetofauna in Kenya. Zoological Research 38(5): 1-11 - get paper here
  • Rösler, Herbert 2015. Bemerkungen über einige Geckos der Zoologischen Staatssammlung München. Gekkota, Suppl. (2): 3-54
  • Spawls, Steve; Kim Howell, Harald Hinkel, Michele Menegon 2018. Field Guide to East African Reptiles. Bloomsbury, 624 pp. - get paper here
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