Rhacodactylus Fitzinger, 1843

Bauer, Aaron M., Jackman, Todd R., Sadlier, Ross A. & Whitaker, Anthony H., 2012, Revision of the giant geckos of New Caledonia (Reptilia: Diplodactylidae: Rhacodactylus), Zootaxa 3404, pp. 1-52: 16-17

publication ID

http://doi.org/ 10.5281/zenodo.211734

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scientific name

Rhacodactylus Fitzinger, 1843
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Rhacodactylus Fitzinger, 1843 

Content. Rhacodactylus leachianus ( Cuvier, 1829)  ( Fig. 3View FIGURE 3 F), R. auriculatus ( Bavay, 1869)  , R. trachyrhynchus Bocage, 1873  ; R. trachycephalus ( Boulenger, 1878)  .

Type species. Ascalabotes leachianus Cuvier, 1829  by original designation.

Diagnosis. Rhacodactylus  may be distinguished from all other New Caledonian diplodactylid geckos by the following combination of character states: body large to very large (maximum 125–256 mm SVL); head large, skull usually ornamented with bumps, ridges or rugosities; tail variable across species, 30–100 % of SVL; dorsal scalation granular, homogeneous; extensive skin folds present or absent; expanded undivided subdigital lamellae under all toes; webbing between digits weakly to strongly developed; claw of digit I of manus and pes positioned lateral to a single, undivided apical lamella; precloacal pores in three to six rows (occasionally up to eight rows, but posteriormost one or two with only scattered pores) in males (49–130 pores in total), longest anterior rows extending on to base of thighs or not; dorsal color pattern highly variable both within and between species.

Distribution. Rhacodactylus  spp. occur throughout most of the Grande Terre — as far north as the Dôme de Tiébaghi in the west and the Panié massif in the east — but they have not been recorded in the far north of Grande Terre and among its smaller satellite islands they have only been recorded on one (Île Némou). They are also present on the Île des Pins and its surrounding satellite islands but are absent from the Loyalty Islands.

Remarks. The four species here retained in a redefined Rhacodactylus  represent three morphologically distinct units. Although we retrieve a monophyletic Rhacodactylus  under maximum likelihood in the ND 2 tree, the low level of support for this arrangement does not exclude the possibility that each of these units represents an independent lineage with closer affinities to other New Caledonian genera than to one another. Were this the case, the name Rhacodactylus  is linked to R. leachianus  and the names Ceratolophus Bocage, 1873  and Chameleonurus Boulenger, 1878  are available for R. auriculatus  and the live-bearing forms, respectively. See below for a discussion of the revalidation of R. trachycephalus  .