Uroplatus fangorn RATSOAVINA, GLAW, RASELIMANANA, RAKOTOARISON, VIEITES, HAWLITSCHEK, VENCES & SCHERZ, 2020
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|Higher Taxa||Gekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)|
|Synonym||Uroplatus fangorn RATSOAVINA, GLAW, RASELIMANANA, RAKOTOARISON, VIEITES, HAWLITSCHEK, VENCES & SCHERZ 2020|
Uroplatus sp. D — RAXWORTHY et al. (2008)
Uroplatus sp. 3 — RATSOAVINA et al. (2011)
Uroplatus ebenaui [Ca3] — RATSOAVINA et al. 2012
Uroplatus ebenaui [Ca3] — RATSOAVINA et al. 2013
Uroplatus ebenaui [Ca3] — RATSOAVINA et al. 2015
Uroplatus ebenaui [Ca3] — RATSOAVINA et al. 2017
Uroplatus ebenaui [Ca3] — RATSOAVINA et al. 2019
|Distribution||NE Madagascar (Marojejy Massif)|
Type locality: Marojejy Massif, Sava Region, north-eastern Madagascar, above the campsite named Camp Simpona, at 14.44083°S, 49.73992°E, 1576 m above sea level (a.s.l.).
|Types||Holotype. ZSM 79/2005 (field number ZCMV 2030), adult male, collected on 17 February 2005 by F. Glaw, M. Vences and R.D. Randrianiaina.|
Paratypes. Two specimens: ZSM 644/2014 (field number DRV 6280), adult male, and UADBA-R 70054 (DRV 6281), adult female, both collected on 22 June 2010 by F. Ratsoavina and F. Randrianasolo at Andrevorevo, south of the Tsaratanana Massif, Sofia Region, northern Madagascar, near campsite B, at 14.3498°S, 49.0876°E, 1638 m a.s.l.
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis. Uroplatus fangorn sp. nov. is assigned to the Uroplatus ebenaui species group based on its relatively small size, leaf-like, laterally-compressed body shape, short tail, and triangular head with supraocular spines. This new species is characterized by the following unique combination of characters: (1) short (TAL/SVL 0.32–0.43) and slender (TAW/SVL 0.07–0.08) tail, (2) oral mucosa with black pigment on the roof of the mouth and base of the tongue, and (3) relatively spiny appearance in males. Additionally, it is distinguished by high pairwise distances > 10% in sequences of the mitochondrial 16S gene from all other nominal species of Uroplatus.|
By its overall leaf-like appearance, the species can easily be distinguished from all members of the U. fimbriatus species group, from U. lineatus, and from the phenetic U. alluaudi species group. Within the U. ebenaui species group, U. fangorn sp. nov. can be distinguished from U. finaritra and U. malama by much smaller body size (SVL 59.5–63.9 mm versus 77.5–95.3 mm); from U. malama, U. phantasticus, U. finiavana and U. finaritra by shorter tail (TAL/SVL 0.28–0.43 versus 0.48–0.76); from U. fiera, U. fotsivava, U. finaritra and U. finiavana by color of the oral mucosa (with black pigment versus pale pinkish all over, or red all over in U. finaritra); from U. kelirambo by slightly more expanded tail edges (versus strongly spear-shaped; TAW/SVL 0.07–0.08 versus 0.04–0.05 in U. kelirambo). The new species is morphologically most similar to U. ebenaui and U. fetsy, two phylogenetically distant species within the U. ebenaui group, but can be distinguished from U. ebenaui by a less extended black pigmentation of the oral mucosa, and possibly by a slightly larger body size (59.5–63.9 mm versus 55.2–56.1 in U. fetsy).
Variation. As with other species, the coloration of U. fangorn is highly variable, ranging from rather uniform browns (Fig. 5F,G) to khaki with numerous dark spots (Fig. 5B,D), to reticulated brown (Fig. 5A). There is clear sexual dimorphism in tail shape as is typical of members of the U. ebenaui species group: most females have smooth-edged tails and males tend to have notches out of their tails (compare Fig. 5 panels D and G). Eye coloration appears to be variable too (Fig. 5), ranging from brown to reddish brown/copper.
|Comment||For references see Ratsoavina et al. 2020 (not provided by authors upon request).|
Distribution: see map in RATSOAVINA et al. 2020: 258 (Fig. 3).
|Etymology||The species epithet fangorn is a noun in apposition to the genus name, derived from the name of a deep, dark woodland in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Fangorn is a Sindarin word (one of Tolkien’s constructed languages) meaning “Treebeard” (derived from the Sindarin words fang, meaning beard, and orn, meaning tree); the same name (both as Fangorn and as Treebeard) is also given to the oldest of the Ents, a race of ancient tree shepherds. We use this name in reference not only to the similarities between Fangorn forest and the forests in which the new species occurs, but also to the tree-like appearance of Uroplatus geckos, which make them seem like the “tree spirits” that are Tolkien’s Ents (Flieger 2013).|
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