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Lygodactylus tsavoensis MALONZA, BAUER, GRANTHON, WILLIAMS & WOJNOWSKI, 2019

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common NamesE: Tsavo Dwarf Gecko 
SynonymLygodactylus tsavoensis MALONZA, BAUER, GRANTHON, WILLIAMS & WOJNOWSKI 2019
Lygodactylus tsavoensis — SPAWLS et al. 2018 
DistributionKenya (Tsavo area, Taita-Taveta County), Tanzania (Arusha)

Type locality: KMC Ranch—Bachuma, Tsavo area, Taita-Taveta County, Kenya (03° 40.775’ S, 038° 58.692’ E, 423 m elevation)  
TypesHolotype: NMK L1384/2, (adult male, Figs. 3A–E in Malonza et al. 2019), collected by Patrick K. Malonza, Joash O. Nyamache and Beryl A. Bwong, 14 May 2013.
Paratypes: NMK L1384/1, adult male, same data as holotype; NMK L1380/4 (adult male), NMK L1380/5 (adult female), LMD Ranch—Bachuma, Tsavo area, Taita-Taveta County, Kenya (03° 39.659’ S, 038° 51.713’ E, 458 m), collected by Patrick K. Malonza, Joash O. Nyamache and Felista K. Kilunda, 22 May 2013. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Lygodactylus tsavoensis sp. nov. is assignable to the L. picturatus species group on the basis of having a large, undivided mental scale followed by three postmentals and subcaudal scales with the median row strongly transversely enlarged. There are five adhesive lamellae beneath the fourth toe (Fig. 3E) and four subcaudal adhesive lamellae. Seven precloacal pores are present in males (Fig. 3D).
The body is grayish-blue (although this may change based on ambient conditions and physiological state; see Coloration in life); the top of head is cream with a dark pattern that forms a Y-shaped chevron joining the orbits (Fig. 3A, B) and continuing posteriorly as two dark stripes which merge at the tail base, breaking up into one dark, irregular stripe along the tail. A dark streak from the snout extends through the eye and ends posterior to the shoulders where it breaks up into irregular blotches on the flanks and on the dorsal surface of limbs and sides of the tail (Fig. 3A). The throat in males is black (Fig. 3C) or has white chevrons on a black background and a white chin spot, more or less similar to L. wojnowskii females or L. keniensis males and females.
Lygodactylus tsavoensis sp. nov. differs in its small body size (males: SVL 30.7-32.8 mm; female 26.2 mm) from its close relatives L. wojnowskii (males 35–38 mm SVL, females 30–38 mm) and L. mombasicus (males 37–39 mm, females 34–35 mm). Lygodactylus keniensis is closer in size to the new species (Table 1), and shares with it a similar number of precloacal pores, seven in males of L. tsavoensis sp. nov. versus 7–8 in L. keniensis.
Most diagnostic differences distinguishing L. tsavoensis sp. nov. from other members of the L. picturatus group are associated with color pattern (Fig. 4). The pale, Y-shaped mark or chevron on the top of the head in the new species continues posteriorly as a pale vertebral stripe up to the tail base. A similar head pattern characterizes L. wojnwoskii, but extends only to the level of the shoulders. Although L. keniensis shares with L. tsavoensis sp. nov. the Y-shaped mark or chevron on top of head this does not continue as a pale or cream vertebral stripe. Lygodactylus mombasicus lacks the Y-shaped chevron and exhibits dark chain-like marks or stripes instead. Lygodactylus kimhowelli (SVL ~36 mm) has a pattern similar to L. mombasicus except for the head pattern, which has regular dark stripes and, like some L. mombasicus, has dark stripes that extend posteriorly up to tail base. Similar to L. mombasicus there is no sexual dichromatism in dorsal pattern in adult L. tsavoensis sp. nov. However, the young of L. tsavoensis sp. nov. is greyish with a striped, golden brown head and golden tail, whereas in L. mombasicus the juvenile color is similar to that of adults. In L. picturatus (SVL males 38–39 mm; females 35–36 mm) the head to the shoulders of males is vivid yellow and striped whereas in females the region is greyish and striped. The young of L. pucturatus are uniformly greyish like those of Lygodactylus tsavoensis sp. nov., but lack the golden brown tail of the latter taxon. Lygodactylus scorteccii (37 mm) have a yellow or cream striped head and a broken chevron mark on the crown as in some L. keniensis but this does not form a pale stripe that continues posteriorly up to tail base as in L. tsavoensis sp. nov and, likewise, it lacks the dark dorsal stripes of the latter species or, if present, they are faded. Lygodactylus manni (SVL 36 mm) has a brown rather than black stripe through the eyes that breaks posteriorly and does not extend to the shoulders as in L. tsavoensis sp. nov. and it has an irregular chevron and scattered speckles on the cream head, with little contrast. Morphological comparisons with other Lygodactylus picturatus group species are summarized in Table 1 and a list of comparative material examined is provided in the Appendix. 
EtymologyThe specific name tsavoensis refers to the Tsavo Conservation Area, the type locality of the new species. 
  • MALONZA, PATRICK K.; AARON M. BAUER, CAROLINA GRANTHON, DEAN A. WILLIAMS, DAVID WOJNOWSKI 2019. A new species of gecko of the genus Lygodactylus (Sauria: Gekkonidae) from southeastern Kenya. Zootaxa 4609 (2): 308–320 - get paper here
  • Spawls, Steve; Kim Howell, Harald Hinkel, Michele Menegon 2018. Field Guide to East African Reptiles. Bloomsbury, 624 pp. - get paper here
  • TIEDEMANN, COLEEN ANN & JENS REISSIG. 2021. Geographic distribution: LYGODACTYLUS TSAVOENSIS (Tsavo Dwarf Gecko). REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA: ARUSHA REGION: Longido District. Herpetological Review 52 (2): 345. - get paper here
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