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Lepidodactylus mitchelli KRAUS, 2019

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common Names 
SynonymLepidodactylus mitchelli KRAUS 2019: 312 
DistributionPapua New Guinea (Milne Bay Province)

Type locality: Boiaboiawaga Island, 10.2096°S, 150.9059°E, sea level, Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea  
TypesHolotype. UMMZ 244058 (field tag FK 17164), mature male, collected by F. Kraus and W. Nemani, 20 March 2015.
Paratypes (n=7). Same locality as holotype, collected by F. Kraus and D. Mitchell, 25 May 2002 (BPBM 15841–47). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A medium-sized (adult SVL 35–45.5 mm) species of Lepidodactylus having a subcylindrical tail without a lateral fringe of enlarged scales; 12–14 enlarged scales of pore-bearing series limited to precloacal region, 10–13 precloacal pores in males; 13–17 T4 lamellae, 8–11 T1 lamellae, with 2–3 divided subterminal scansors on T4; lamellae occupying most of toes (T4lamellaeL/T4L = 0.84–0.98); fairly wide toes (T4W/T4L = 0.31–0.40) with moderate webbing (T3T4webL/T4L = 0.13–0.23); row of tiny scales between the precloacal series and either side of the pubic patch; dorsum usually with several irregular dark-brown saddles (wide tan vertebral band in one juvenile); and many posteroventral and plantar scales uniformly brown.

Comparisons with other species. The subcylindrical tail without a lateral fringe of enlarged scales and the 2–3 divided subterminal scansors under the toes place Lepidodactylus mitchelli sp. nov. in Brown and Parker’s (1977) Group II. Lepidodactylus mitchelli sp. nov. differs from other Melanesian members of this group as follows: from L. guppyi, L. pulcher, and L. shebae in having fewer enlarged precloacal/femoral scales (12–14 versus 39–52, 18–20, and 34, respectively) and fewer precloacal pores (10–13 versus 39–52, 16, and 32, respectively); it further differs from L. pulcher in its smaller adult size (SVL = 35–45.5 mm versus 40–55 mm in L. pulcher). The new species is most similar to L. novaeguineae. It differs from that species in having more T4 lamellae (13–17 versus 9–15 in L. novaeguineae), its color pattern of vague dark-brown saddles (Fig. 4A, versus many longitudinal dark streaks or dorsolateral series of bold dark-brown blotches in L. novaeguineae), generally darker venter (heavily peppered with brown in seven of eight specimens versus white with sparse brown punctations in L. novaeguineae, Fig. 3A versus 3C), and in having many posteroventral and plantar scales uniformly brown (versus only with minute black puncta- tions in L. novaeguineae, Fig. 3D versus 3F in Kraus 2019). 
CommentHabitat: The holotype was collected in a ca. 3-meter-tall Pandanus during the day; the paratypes were taken on the trunks of casuarina trees at night. Vegetation in the center of this island is dominated by Pisonia grandis; the shoreline is dominated by Pandanus, casuarina, and cocos (Fig. 5A in Kraus 2019). 
EtymologyThe name is a genitive honorific for Fred Kraus’ friend, David Mitchell, who has directed a series of conservation organizations in Milne Bay Province for many years, frequently provided logistical support to Kraus’ expeditions in that same province, and helped collect part of the type series. 
  • Kraus, Fred 2019. New species of Lepidodactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from New Guinea and adjacent islands. Zootaxa 4651 (2): 305–329 - get paper here
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