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Hemidactylus nicolauensis VASCONCELOS, KÖHLER, GENIEZ & CROCHET, 2020

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common Names 
SynonymHemidactylus nicolauensis VASCONCELOS, KÖHLER, GENIEZ & CROCHET 2020 
DistributionCape Verde Islands

Type locality: Ribeira Funda around 250 m. a.s.l., São Nicolau Island, Cabo Verde (16.66°N, 24.34°W; WGS 84).  
TypesHolotype. SMF 86992 (Morphobank M585325–M585346), adult male, collected 01 April 2007 by Gunther Köhler, GK.
Paratypes. UCV2018/004 (previously SMF 86991; Morphobank M585298–M585321) adult female from Ribeira Funda, collected by GK; SMF 90057 (Morphobank M585736–M585746) and SMF 90058 (Morphobank M585747–M585754), juveniles and same data as holotype. Other specimens in NHMUK 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A small Hemidactylus that shares all the morphological features common to the Cabo Verde endemic species (see Arnold et al. 2008), but characterized by the following combination of characters: no enlarged tubercles on dorsum or upper tail, two precloacal pores (one on each side) in males, two fully divided toe lamellae at the tip of the longest fingers and toes.
Hemidactylus nicolauensis sp. nov. is morphologically most similar to its sister taxon H. bouvieri, as both species have enlarged scales and toe lamellae (scansors) under toes and fingers, with minute hair-like structure under the toe lamellae. It is differentiated from H. bouvieri by the following characters: in H. nicolauensis sp. nov. the maximum size is larger (SVL 41 mm vs. 36 mm in H. bouvieri; Table 2), the toe lamellae tend to be more divided, with usually two fully divided toe lamellae (sometimes three) under the longest toes and fingers, whereas in H. bouvieri, the toe lamellae are entire (with a narrowing at the middle for the largest ones) or there is one or (rarely) two entirely divided toe lamellae near the tip of the fingers or toes (see Table 3). The difference is best appreciated under the third finger where it is diagnostic: there are at least two divided toe lamellae in H. nicolauensis sp. nov., whereas in H. bouvieri there is at most one divided toe lamellae under third finger.
Head colouration seems diagnostically different in the live specimens we have examined (colour photos of live specimens: six H. nicolauensis sp. nov. and five H. bouvieri; Fig. 7): the dark band that runs along the snout side in front of the eye is thinner and better defined in H. bouvieri (less well marked and/or thicker in H. nicolauensis sp. nov.) whereas the top of the head has many more dark elements in H. nicolauensis sp. nov., resulting in a less clean and contrasted head pattern in all age classes (see Figs. 3, 7; Morphobank M585300 versus M676174). In addition, the dorsal colouration of H. nicolauensis sp. nov. is usually less contrasting and the dark bands across the dorsum do not reach as far down on the flanks as in H. bouvieri (Morphobank M585300 versus M676180; Fig. 7). In H. bouvieri, most individuals have a distinct pale yellowish background colouration with contrasting dark band on dorsum joining with a continuous dark band along the flanks. In H. nicolauensis sp. nov., the colouration is never as contrasting as in most H. bouvieri, and most animals have shorter dark bands across dorsum, no continuous dark bands along flank, and a generally darker and less contrasting body and head colouration, although there is an overlap in body colouration between the two species (Morphobank M585300 versus M676180; Fig. 7).
Finally, head shape in most individuals differs between the two species, with H. bouvieri having a longer and more pointed snout than H. nicolauensis sp. nov.. Again, there is variation in this feature, as some H. bouvieri have a snout shape that is not clearly different from H. nicolauensis sp. nov. (see Figs. 3, 7 and Morphobank M676174 versus M585304).
Hemidactylus nicolauensis sp. nov. differs morphologically from H. boavistensis by its smaller size (the latter reaching up to 50 mm SVL), coarser and less numerous ventral scales (26 or 27 versus 35–38 across mid-belly in H. boavistensis), lower number of enlarged scales and digital lamellae under fourth hind toe (5–8 versus 7–9), and its narrower head. The two species have also a clearly different colouration (e.g.: Morphobank M585300 versus M678224; Fig. 7). Finally, H. nicolauensis sp. nov. differs morphologically from H. lopezjuradoi by its lower number of precloacal pores in males (one on each side versus three on each side in H. lopezjuradoi) and by the absence of the enlarged small tubercles on the back that are typical of H. lopezjuradoi. 
EtymologyThe species epithet refers to the island of São Nicolau, the only island of Cabo Verde where the new species is currently known to occur. 
  • VASCONCELOS, R., KÖHLER, G., GENIEZ, P., & CROCHET, P. A. 2020. A new endemic species of Hemidactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from São Nicolau Island, Cabo Verde. Zootaxa 4878 (3): 501-522 - get paper here
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