Friday, May 26, 2023

[Herpetology • 2023] Strophurus spinula • A New Species of Spiny-tailed Gecko (Squamata: Diplodactylidae: Strophurus) from the Mulga Woodlands of inland Western Australia

Strophurus spinula
Sadlier, Beatson, Brennan & Bauer, 2023

 A new species of spiny-tailed gecko, Strophurus spinula sp. nov., is described from inland areas of southern Western Australia. Among its diagnostic features are a discontinuous mostly straight row of enlarged tubercles down either side of the body, and the caudal spines of the tail are uniformly coloured with the largest lateral spines aligned to form a laterodorsal row on either side of the tail. In these characteristics it is most similar in morphology to Strophurus assimilis, and to a lesser extent S. intermedius. Genetic information shows it is most closely related to a group of species that includes S. intermedius, S. spinigerus and S. rankini. Strophurus spinula sp. nov. is found largely within the southern mulga woodlands region of Western Australia, and at the southern margins of its range is parapatric with respect to S. assimilis.

 Strophurus spinula sp. nov.
Lesser Thorn-tailed Gecko

Strophurus spinula sp. nov. can be distinguished from other members of the genus by the following combination of characters: a relatively straight and discontinuous row of enlarged unicoloured tubercles along the dorsolateral margin of the body; tail with a single row of enlarged unicoloured spines on either side of the original tail, progressively decreasing in size towards the distal part of the tail; scales in a transverse line across the tail between longitudinal rows of enlarged caudal spines scales 2–3 in number at mid-tail and larger than surrounding tail scales.

ETYMOLOGY: The species name ‘spinula’ is the Latin for ‘little thorn’ in reference to the comparatively small size of the tail spines, a feature which distinguishes it from regionally parapatric Strophurus assimilis which has more pronounced spines on the tail and bears the common name the ‘Thorn-tailed Gecko’. The specifc epithet is constructed as a noun in apposition.

Two individuals of Strophurus spinula sp. nov. from Mt Gibson in Western Australia.
 aspects of the whole body and the straight-line and broken arrangement of tubercles along the dorsolateral axis of the body; 
(photos: Anders Zimny & Ray Lloyd).

 Ross A. Sadlier, Cecilie A. Beatson, Ian Brennan and Aaron M. Bauer. 2023. A New Species of Spiny-tailed Gecko (Squamata: Diplodactylidae: Strophurus) from the Mulga Woodlands of inland Western Australia. RECORDS OF THE WESTERN AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM. 38; 11–26. DOI: 10.18195/issn.0312-3162.38.2023.011-026