Stenodactylus guttatus Cuvier, 1829,

Metallinou, Margarita & Crochet, Pierre-André, 2013, Nomenclature of African species of the genus Stenodactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae), Zootaxa 3691 (3), pp. 365-376: 369

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Stenodactylus guttatus Cuvier, 1829


Stenodactylus guttatus Cuvier, 1829 

1829 Sten. guttatus  Cuvier, Le règne animal distribué d'après son organisation, pour servir de base à l'histoire naturelle des animaux et d'introduction à l'anatomie comparée. Nouvelle édition revue et augmentée. Vol. 2: 58.

The description of Stenodactylus guttatus  makes explicit reference to two specimens illustrated in “Description de l’Égypte” (Anonymous 1809–1827): the first specimen is the one illustrated in Plate 5, Figure 2View FIGURE 2 and the second is illustrated in “Supplément” Plate 1, Figure 2View FIGURE 2. Cuvier (1829) mentions the former in the main text and the latter in a footnote of the same page, yet clearly including them both in his new species. These two specimens are thus syntypes of Stenodactylus guttatus Cuvier, 1829  (see the Code Art. 72.4.1).

From these two specimens, the one represented in Plate 5, Figure 2View FIGURE 2 has been identified by Guibé (1954) as specimen MNHN 1765 of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris. It is labeled as “ syntype ” on its jar, and as “ type ” on the paper card corresponding to this specimen number ( Fig. 2View FIGURE 2 F). We examined this specimen (see Fig. 2View FIGURE 2 B – 2 E) and we agree that it is indeed the specimen illustrated in Plate 5, Figure 2View FIGURE 2 (see Fig. 2View FIGURE 2 A): note the same skin fold along the left side of the head, the dark spots on the lower back, open mouth, and arrangement of scales around the nostril. The locality given is “ Egypt ”, without any further information found either in the MNHN catalogues or provided by Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1827).

The other specimen (the one illustrated in “Supplément” Plate 1, Figure 2View FIGURE 2) is apparently lost. Roger Bour (pers. comm.), who recently investigated the status of all the specimens illustrated in the “Description de l’Égypte”, was not able to locate it. While most of the reptiles  illustrated in “Description de l’Égypte” originate from Egypt, some of them have been collected by Jules-César Savigny, who also collected specimens during the campaign to Syria in 1799, when he reached as far north as Tiberias and Acre (Bour, pers. comm.), both in northern present-day Israel. This specimen can thus originate either from Egypt or Israel.

These two syntypes obviously belong to two different species. The first specimen (Pl. 5, Fig. 2View FIGURE 2 = MNHN 1765) is clearly a member of the species currently called Stenodactylus petrii  [note for ex. the large head ( Fig. 2View FIGURE 2 D), the distinctly thin, whip-like tail ( Fig. 2View FIGURE 2 B), the multiple rows of strongly protruding cloacal tubercles ( Fig. 2View FIGURE 2 C)]. The other specimen is easily identifiable as a member of the genus Ptyodactylus  . Fixation of the status of the nomen Stenodactylus guttatus Cuvier, 1829  in the synonymy, therefore, requires designation of a lectotype. To our knowledge, there has been no lectotype designation for this nomen so far. Note that the mention by Guibé (1954) of specimen MNHN 1765 as “ holotype ” of Stenodactylus guttatus  does not constitute a valid lectotype designation, as “the original work reveals that the taxon had been based on more than one specimen” and the author did not explicitly indicate that he was “selecting that particular specimen from the type series to serve as the name-bearing type ” (see the Code Art. 74.5).

Designating as lectotype the Stenodactylus  syntype (MNHN 1765) would have important nomenclatural consequences, as it would make Stenodactylus guttatus  the oldest available name for the species currently known as Stenodactylus petrii  . In order to maintain nomenclatural stability, we thus designate here as lectotype of Stenodactylus guttatus Cuvier, 1829  the specimen illustrated in Plate 1, Figure 2View FIGURE 2 of “ Reptiles  - Supplément” of the “Illustrations de Description de l’Égypte” (Anonymous 1809–1827). Identification of this specimen to species level is not easy. There are currently four species of Ptyodactylus  widely spread in Egypt and Israel, whose identification can be complicated (see Baha El Din 2006; Werner & Sivan 1993, 1994). However, the long, narrow and flat head together with the lack of pale spots on the dorsum makes us confident that the lectotype belongs to the species currently known as Ptyodactylus hasselquistii (Donndorff, 1798)  . Note that previous authors (notably Werner and Sivan 1993, 1994) have reached a different conclusion regarding the identification of this specimen, referring it to Ptyodactylus guttatus (Heyden, 1827)  , instead. Since this nomen is also older than Stenodactylus guttatus Cuvier, 1829  , uncertainties over its identification have no nomenclatural consequences so far. Unambiguous fixation of the allocation of Stenodactylus guttatus Cuvier, 1829  in the synonymy of the genus Ptyodactylus  would certainly require designation of a neotype.

Name-bearing type: the specimen illustrated in Figure 2View FIGURE 2 of Plate 1 of “ Reptiles  - Supplément” of the “Illustrations de Description de l’Égypte” (Anonymous 1809–1827), lectotype by present designation. This specimen is apparently lost. Type locality: Egypt or Israel (see above).

Proposed status: subjective junior synonym of Ptyodactylus hasselquistii (Donndorff, 1798)  .