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Matoatoa brevipes (MOCQUARD, 1900)

IUCN Red List - Matoatoa brevipes - Vulnerable, VU

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common Names 
SynonymPhyllodactylus brevipes MOCQUARD 1900: 346
Phyllodactylus porphyreus brevipes — KLUGE 1993
Phyllodactylus brevipes — GLAW & VENCES 1994: 264
Matoatoa brevipes — NUSSBAUM, RAXWORTHY & PRONK 1998
Matoatoa brevipes — HEINICKE et al. 2014 
DistributionMadagascar (Toliara)

Type locality: Ambolisatra, Madagascar [probably today’s Ambolisaka, 10 km SE of Morombe, Toliara Province].  
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 1899.0341 (specimen damaged by fire) 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Phyllodactyle gekkonines that have second ceratobranchials; fused nasals bones; pre cloacal pores in males; rugose or ornamented snout bones (premaxillae, maxillae, nasals, prefrontals, anterior frontal) strongly adhering to overlying skin; smooth postorbital skull bones not strongly adherent to overlying skin; homogeneous, flattened, smooth body scales arranged in parallel transverse rings; nonimbricate ventral scales; adhesive tail tip in which scansorial scales are not differentiated into distinct ventral pad, but rather consist of pilose scales of-normal size and shape that nearly or completely encircle tail tip.

Definition. Matoatoa is distinguishable from all other geckos based on the following combination of characters: size moderate (40–58 mm max. SVL), with a narrow head, a long, tubular body, unusually short limbs and long neck, and round, thick, tapering, prehensile tail with scansorial scales encircling the tip but no subcaudal pad. Dig- its are free and bear a single pair of dilated terminal adhesive pads (‘leaf toes’); claws present on all digits. Body scalation consists of flat, beadlike granules arranged in transverse rings. Preanal pores are present; 1–3 cloacal spurs are present. The eye bears a vertical pupil with cre- nate margins. The skull displays prominent co-ossification with the overlying skin, especially on the nasals. Nasals are fused; frontal single; parietal paired; stapes imperfo- rate; 14 scleral ossicles; 11 premaxillary and approxi- mately 30 dentary teeth; hyoid with second ceratobranchial cartilages. There are 26 presacral verte- brae and one pair of very small cloacal bones. The phalan- geal formula is 2-3-4-5-3 (manus)/2-3-4-5-4 (pes); paraphalangeal elements are absent.
Matoatoa brevipes exhibits the following non-homoplastic apomorphic characters: raised sculpturing of der- mal bones (11-2, Fig. 10); broad contact between prefrontal and nasal (85-2, Fig. 10); postorbitofrontal fora- men present (94-0, Fig. 10); basipterygoid process not expanded distally (261-1, Fig. 20); bulge of anterior ampulla on brain case wall approaches the crista alaris (284-1, Fig. 15); posterior marginal teeth strongly tapering and pointed (not peg-like) (385-1).
Among leaf-toed geckos, cranial co-ossification is otherwise only known in some species of the relatively dis- tantly related Malagasy/Comoroan genus Paroedura. In addition, the arrangement of body scales in distinct transverse rings is unique among leaf-toed geckos and the extreme slenderness of the quadrate (Figs 15, 20) is exceptional among geckos as a whole [HEINICKE et al. 2014] 
CommentSynonym: Listed as synonym of Phyllodactylus porphyreus porphyreus by WERMUTH 1965 (who cites ANGEL 1942 and GUIBÉ 1956 as sources).

Type Species: Phyllodactylus brevipes MOCQUARD 1900 is the type species of the genus Matoatoa NUSSBAUM, RAXWORTHY & PRONK 1998.

Habitat: dry, open, spiny forests, generally on sandy coastal soils. Also in more mesic, denser forests near boies of water. Often found inside hollow, dead branches of standing trees. 
EtymologyNamed after Latin “brevis, -e” = short and “pes, pedis” = foot.

Etymology (genus): Named after the Malagasy word “matoatoa” meaning ghost, in reference to the elusive, mysterious, and secretive nature of the two species. 
  • Angel, F. 1942. Les Lézards de Madagascar. Mem. Acad. Malagache, Tananarive XXXVI: 193 pp.
  • Glaw ,F. & Vences, M. 1994. A Fieldguide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Vences & Glaw Verlag, Köln (ISBN 3-929449-01-3)
  • Guibé, J. 1956. Revision des espèces du genre Phyllodactylus Gray. Mem. Inst. Sci. Madagascar ser. A., 10: 245-250
  • Heinicke, Matthew P.; Juan D. Daza, Eli Greenbaum, Todd R. Jackman & Aaron M. Bauer 2014. Phylogeny, taxonomy and biogeography of a circum-Indian Ocean clade of leaf-toed geckos (Reptilia: Gekkota), with a description of two new genera. Systematics and Biodiversity 12 (1): 23-42, DOI:10.1080/14772000.2013.877999 - get paper here
  • Kluge,A.G. & Nussbaum,R.A. 1995. A review of African-Madagascan gekkonid lizard phylogeny and biogeography (Squamata). Misc. Pub. Mus. Zool. Univ. Michigan 183: 1-20 - get paper here
  • Mezzasalma, Marcello; Fabio Guarino, Simon Loader, Gaetano Odierna, Jeffrey Streicher, Natalie Cooper 2020. First karyological analysis of the endemic Malagasy phantom gecko Matoatoa brevipes (Squamata: Gekkonidae). Acta Herpetologica 15 (2): 137-141 - get paper here
  • Mocquard, F. 1900. Diagnose d'espéces nouvelles de Reptiles de Madagascar. Bull. Mus. nat. Hist. nat., Paris 6: 345- 348. - get paper here
  • Nussbaum R.A., RAXWORTHY C.J. & PRONK,O. 1998. The ghost geckos of Madagascar: a further revision of the Malagasy leaf-toed geckos (Reptilia, Squamata, Gekkonidae). Misc. Publ. Mus. Zool. Univ. Michigan 186: 1-26 - get paper here
  • Schönecker, P. & Böhle, A. 2004. Die Geckogattungen Madagaskars. Draco 5 (19): 56-67 - get paper here
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