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Pletholax gracilis (COPE, 1864)

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Higher TaxaPygopodidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Slender Slider 
SynonymPygopus gracilis COPE 1864: 229
Pletholax gracilis — BOULENGER 1885: 245
Pletholax gracilis — KLUGE 1974: 146
Pletholax gracilis — KLUGE 1993
Pletholax gracilis — COGGER 2000: 296
Pletholax gracilis — WILSON & SWAN 2010
Pletholax gracilis — KEALLEY et al. 2020 
DistributionAustralia (Western Australia: lower west coast)

Type locality: South Western Australia  
TypesHolotype: RMNH 3670 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus). Extremely slender small pygopod species, distinguishable from all other genera by keeled scales completely encircling body and tail, including unenlarged ventral row (Kealley et al. 2020).

Diagnosis. Distinguished from P. edelensis by presence of visible ear opening, smaller body size (edelensis reaching a 91 mm maximum SVL compared to gracilis with 78 mm), posterior supra-ocular 1.5–2.0 times larger than anterior, two supraciliaries, three anterior temporals (2 in edelensis) and darker dorsal pattern. 
CommentSCHLEGEL is sometimes given as author of this species, based on a statement in COPE: “P[letholax]. gracilis is Pygopus gracilis, Schlegel (Mus. Leyden) to whom I am indebted for the opportunity of making this description”.

Subspecies: Pletholax gracilis edelensis STORR 1978 has been elevated to full species by Kealley et al. 2020.

Limb morphology: Limbless.

Type species: Pygopus gracilis (SCHLEGEL in) COPE 1864: 229 is the type species of the genus Pletholax COPE 1864.

Habitat. White and grey sandplains vegetated with Banksia woodland and heath (from collector’s notes and Shea and Peterson [1993]).

Ecology. Displays both burrowing or ‘sand-swimming’ behaviour, as well as possible climbing on to low vegetation (Shea and Peterson, 1993).

Diet: Termites with occasional observations of nectar feeding have been reported (Ehmann [1992; Shea and Peterson [1993]; Bush et al. [2007]).

Reproduction: occurs in spring, with two eggs per clutch (Shea and Peterson, 1993).

Distribution: see map (Fig. 2) in Kealley et al. 2020: 2. 
EtymologyNamed after Latin “gracilis”, meaning small or lanky, or gracile.

The genus is, according to Storr et al. (1990): “Possibly based on Greek stem pleth- denoting fullness or completeness, in allusion to the strong keeling” (p. 126).
  • Bamford, M. J. 1998. Field observations on the semi-arboreal pygopodids Aclys concinna (Kluge 1974) and Pletholax gracilis (Cope 1864). Herpetofauna (Sydney) 28 (2): 2-4
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1885. Catalogue of the lizards in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. Geckonidae, Eublepharidae, Uroplatidae, Pygopodidae, Agamidae. London: 450 pp. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 7th ed. CSIRO Publishing, xxx + 1033 pp. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H.G. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 6th ed. Ralph Curtis Publishing, Sanibel Island, 808 pp.
  • Cope, E.D. 1864. On the characters of the higher groups of Reptilia - Squamata - and especially y of the Diploglossa. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 1864: 224-231 - get paper here
  • Glauert, L. 1956. Herpetological Miscellanea VIII Snake Lizards and Worm Lizards (Family Pygopodidae). Western Australian Naturalist 5 (6): - get paper here
  • Kealley, Luke; Paul Doughty, Danielle Edwards and Ian G. Brennan 2020. Taxonomic assessment of two pygopodoid gecko subspecies from Western Australia. Israel J Ecol Evol 66 (3-4): 126-141 - get paper here
  • Kinghorn, J. Roy 1926. A brief review of the family Pygopodidae. Rec. Austral. Mus. 15 (1): 40-64 - get paper here
  • Kluge, Arnold G. 1976. Phylogenetic relationships in the lizard family Pygopodidae: an evaluation of theory, methods and data. Miscellaneous Publications, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan (152): 1-72 - get paper here
  • Laube, A. & Langner, C. 2007. Die “Geckos” Australiens. Draco 8 (29): 4-21 - get paper here
  • Schlegel, [H.] 1865. Pygopus gracilis. p. 229. In: Cope, E. D. On the characters of the higher groups of REPTILIA SQUAMATA--and especially of the DIPLOGLOSSA. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 1864: 224-231 - get paper here
  • Shea G M. & Peterson M. 1993. Notes on the biology of the genus Pletholax Cope (Squamata: Pygopodidae). Rec. West. Austr. Mus. 16 (3): 419-425. - get paper here
  • Storr G M 1978. Taxonomic notes on the reptiles of the Shark Bay region, Western Australia. Rec. West. Aust. Mus. 6 (3): 303-318 - get paper here
  • Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2010. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, 3rd ed. Chatswood: New Holland, 558 pp.
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