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Strophurus trux VANDERDUYS, 2017

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Higher TaxaDiplodactylidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common NamesE: Golden-eyed gecko 
SynonymStrophurus trux VANDERDUYS 2017 
DistributionAustralia (C Queensland)

Type locality: Mt Redcliffe, 8 km south southwest of Marlborough, central Queensland, Australia (149°53'30 E, 22°48'50" S)  
TypesHolotype: QM J94287, male, collected by E. Vanderduys, 16 January 2015. Paratypes: Collection locations as holotype. QM J95523, female collected by A. Reside and E. Vanderduys, 22 December 2014; QM J94284, male; QM J94285, female; QM J95524, male all collected by E. Vanderduys, 16 January 2015 
DiagnosisStrophurus trux sp. nov. is a small (maximum SVL 48.8 mm), short-tailed (TL/SVL 0.47–0.61), faintly patterned or immaculate gecko (Figure 1) from central eastern Queensland, Australia (Figure 2). Strophurus trux sp. nov. can be distinguished from all other Strophurus by the combination of the following characters: its bright yellow to rich gold or golden brown coloured iris (Figure 3); its lack of enlarged tubercles or spines anywhere on the body except at the posterior edge of the upper eyelid; cloacal spurs; generally dull pattern, with scattered dark grey spots, each occupying a single scale at most, and sometimes a faint indication of slightly darker brown dorsal reticulations, and often faint longitudinal stripes along the tail. Ventral surface is demarcated from dorsal surface along the lower sides, the ventral surface being paler than the dorsal, usually with scattered darker spots, each occupying a single scale. Demarcation of dorsal and ventral colours is stronger on the tail than on the body. The mouth lining is pale blue while the tongue is pink to red (Figure 4).

Comparison. Strophurus trux sp. nov. is most similar to Strophurus congoo, from which it differs in having bright yellow to golden irises (versus a cream background with brown to orange reticulum in S. congoo). Like S. congoo, in S. trux sp. nov. the dorsal and lateral scales are homogenous in size throughout, and there are scattered darker grey to black spots that occupy a single scale each over much of the dorsal and lateral surface and on the upper surfaces of the limbs. The mouth lining is blue, as in S. congoo, while the tongue is more pink–maroon (versus dark blue-black to brown in S. congoo), though any distinction between the two species by these characters is lost in the preserved material. The known ranges of S. trux sp. nov. and S. congoo are separated by ~780 km (Figure 2). Characters provided in Vanderduys (2016) that compare Strophurus congoo with all other Strophurus are similarly useful in distinguishing S. trux sp. nov. from all other Strophurus (except S. congoo, see above) and highlight the similarity between S. trux sp. nov. and S. congoo. These characters are not covered exhaustively here, but are summarised below. Strophurus trux sp. nov. lacks any form of enlarged spines or tubercles, with the exception of postocular supraciliaries which are usually enlarged into 2–4 short spines on either side, and enlarged cloacal spurs. In this, it differs from the "spiny-tailed" (Wilson & Swan 2013) Strophurus; S. assimilis, S. ciliaris, S. intermedius, S. krisalys, S. rankini, S. spinigerus, S. strophurus, S. wellingtonae and S. williamsi. With a maximum recorded SVL of 48.8 mm, S. trux sp. nov. is also significantly smaller than any of these species. From the seven "striped" or "phasmid" geckos (Wilson & Swan 2013; Oliver & Parkin 2014); S. jeanae, S. mcmillani, S. michaelseni, S. robinsoni, S. taeniatus, S. wilsoni, and S. horneri, S. trux sp. nov. differs in lacking a clear pattern of longitudinal stripes. At most, any stripes present in S. trux sp. nov. are messy and faint (Figure 7 (a and b)). Male S. trux sp. nov. further differ from these in possessing precloacal pores, though the lack of precloacal pores is only inferred for S. horneri (Oliver & Parkin, 2014, and referred to as "post-cloacal", which is assumed here to be in error). From Strophurus elderi, S. trux sp. nov. differs in its finer build (versus robust), generally dull patterning (versus possessing dark edged, cream to white spots) and the males possessing precloacal pores (versus absent in S. elderi). From Strophurus taenicauda, S. trux sp. nov. differs in its much smaller adult size, generally dull patterning (versus starkly contrasting black spots and patches on a pale grey to white background, and an orange to gold dorsal tail stripe). The combination of iris pattern and colour alone are sufficient to distinguish S. trux sp. nov. from most other Strophurus. From all Strophurus except S. michaelseni, some S. spinigerus and S. taenicauda triaureus, S. trux sp. nov. differs in its eye colour which is yellow–golden brown, with a few white flecks within it. Both S. spinigerus spinigerus (Gray) and S. s. inornatus (Storr) usually have a dark maroon area surrounding the pupil (Storr, 1988), which is more subtle or only vaguely present in S. trux sp. nov. (Figure 3). Several other Strophurus (S. ciliaris, S. intermedius, S. rankini, S. strophurus, S. wellingtonae and S. williamsi) may have bright yellow to gold eyes, but the pupil is prominently surrounded by black or dark brown reticulations on a white background. Where S. williamsi occurs in close sympatry to both S. trux sp. nov. and S. congoo the dorsal tubercles of S. williamsi, though present, tend to be reduced (Vanderduys 2016), see Figure 8. Initial genetic analyses based on mitochondrial data alone suggest that S. trux sp. nov. sits within the S. strophurus lineage of Nielsen et al. (2016), but no close relationship with any other lineages in this group is strongly supported (Oliver, pers. comm.). The presence of precloacal pores in males of this group also suggests that it fits within the S. strophurus lineage. 
EtymologyThe specific epithet "trux" is Latin for wild, savage, harsh and pitiless, including instruments of human savagery, and also of the scene of such cruelty (Lewis & Short 1879; Glare 1982). This name was chosen in reference to the only location known for Strophurus trux sp. nov. It is in the proximity of the "Marlborough stretch", a section of the old Bruce Highway in central Queensland with notoriety as a wild and dangerous place in the 1960s and 1970s because of a series of murders and shootings (Gibson 2002) and its general remoteness. 
  • VANDERDUYS, ERIC 2017. A new species of gecko (Squamata: Diplodactylidae: Strophurus) from central Queensland, Australia. Zootaxa 4347 (2): 316–330 - get paper here
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