Tuesday, February 21, 2023

[Herpetology • 2023] Phyllurus fimbriatus • A New Species of Phyllurus Leaf-tailed Gecko (Lacertilia: Carphodactylidae) from Scawfell Island, mid-east Queensland, Australia

Phyllurus fimbriatus  
Hoskin, 2023

Photos: Edward Evans & Conrad Hoskin.
A recent targeted reptile survey of Scawfell Island, in the South Cumberland Group, revealed a species of Phyllurus gecko that could not be morphologically assigned to any described species. Here I describe this as a new species, Phyllurus fimbriatus sp. nov., based on differences in a number of morphometric and scalation traits from congeners. Phyllurus fimbriatus sp. nov. is restricted to deeply-piled boulder habitat under rainforest canopy on Scawfell Island, approximately 50 km offshore from Mackay in mid-east Queensland. A survey in rocky, rainforest habitat on nearby Carlisle Island failed to find the species, and other nearby islands appear to lack sufficiently deep rock outcropping to support the species. Phyllurus fimbriatus sp. nov. is known from two small patches of habitat on Scawfell Island, but it is common within these, and is likely to be found in other suitable habitat patches on the island. Based on assessment of imagery, the total area of habitat occupied may be < 1 km2. The island is protected within South Cumberland National Park, but fire encroachment from adjacent dry sclerophyll habitats, climate change, competition from introduced Asian House Geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus Duméril & Bibron, 1836), and poaching are potential threats.

Keywords: Phyllurus fimbriatus, sp. nov., leaf-tailed gecko, rainforest, boulder-field, Reptilia

Holotype of Phyllurus fimbriatus sp. nov. (QM J97578).
Photo: Edward Evans.

Phyllurus fimbriatus sp. nov. in life:
 (A) adult female with original tail; (B) juvenile with original tail;
(C) adult female with regenerated tail; (D) adult male of unusual colouration, with regenerated tail.
Photos: Conrad Hoskin.

Habitat of Phyllurus fimbriatus sp. nov. on Scawfell Island. Photo: Conrad Hoskin.

Phyllurus fimbriatus sp. nov.

Diagnosis. Distinguished from congeners by the following characters: large size (SVL to 113 mm); obviously flared original and regenerated tail; rostral scale partially divided by a single groove; body and tail surfaces with small tubercles, with larger spinose tubercles largely restricted to margins of original tail; anterior-most white band on original tail V-shaped or notched, and spanning full width of tail; ventral surfaces immaculate. 

Etymology. The species name fimbriatus is Latin for ‘fringed’, referring to the restriction of spines on the original tail to a fringe along the outer edge.

Conrad J. Hoskin. 2023. A New Species of Phyllurus Leaf-tailed Gecko (Lacertilia: Carphodactylidae) from Scawfell Island, mid-east Queensland, Australia. Zootaxa. 5244(3)233-243. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.5244.3.2