Saturday, February 10, 2018

[Herpetology • 2018] Hemidactylus malcolmsmithi • On the Status of Cyrtodactylus malcolmsmithi (Constable, 1949)

Hemidactylus malcolmsmithi  (Constable, 1949)

in Agarwal, Giri & Bauer, 2018.

Cyrtodactylus malcolmsmithi was described by Constable in 1949 in the genus Gymnodactylus on the basis of its apparently undivided subdigital lamellae. The species has not been collected since and only finds mention in some checklists and new Cyrtodactylus descriptions. We recently examined the holotype and paratype of this enigmatic taxon and discovered that the subdigital lamellae are divided. The species is accordingly transferred to the genus Hemidactylus, within which it is a member of the Hemidactylus brookii complex and a valid speciesHemidactylus malcolmsmithi comb. nov. We assign recently sampled populations to this taxon and provide a diagnosis against congeners from the Indian subcontinent and a summary of characters for the species.

Keywords: Gekkonidae, HemidactylusHemidactylus brookii complex, Hemidactylus malcolmsmithi, India, South Asia

Figure 4. Hemidactylus malcolmsmithi in life (CES/11/050).
 Figure 2. View of left manus of Hemidactylus malcolmsmithi (left panel, CES/11/052 in life; right panel, holotype MCZ-R-3252).

Hemidactylus malcolmsmithi in life (CES/11/050).

 Hemidactylus malcolmsmithi comb. nov. 
 Gymnodactylus malcolmsmithi Constable, 1949 
Cyrtodactylus malcolmsmithi Underwood, 1954

Natural History and Distribution. Hemidactylus malcolmsmithi is nocturnal and may be seen on the ground as well as low rocks, road cuttings, and buildings at night. The species is known from across the lowlands of Himachal and Jammu (up to about 1,500 m), and from a few specimens from Odisha and Rajasthan (Lajmi et al., 2016), though it is unclear what the native range of this species is, and which, if any, of these localities represent human translocations, with further sampling needed to determine its distributional range.


The status of the enigmatic taxon H. malcolmsmithi is finally resolved, through a combination of relatively recent field sampling, a careful examination of .140-year-old museum specimens, and recent publications on the H. brookii complex (Mahony, 2011; Lajmi et al. 2016). Constable initially did think he had a Hemidactylus before him, but the poor condition of the specimens and the opinions of two experts led him to place the species in Gymnodactylus. Interestingly, Khan (2010) opined that this species might be a misidentified specimen of H. brookii, and I.A. thought he might have this species when collecting Hemidactylus from around the Beas River basin (which we now know are in fact H. malcolmsmithi). However, the appearance of the lamellae in the types, which are longitudinally folded over themselves, had led previous researchers to erroneous conclusions.

 Ishan Agarwal, Varad B. Giri and Aaron M. Bauer. 2018. On the Status of Cyrtodactylus malcolmsmithi (Constable, 1949). Breviora. 557; 1-11.   DOI: 10.3099/MCZ41.1 

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