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The recent rediscovery of the golden gecko, Calodactylodes aureus, after more than 100 years, has given occasion to reconsider both its phylogenetic position amongst the gekkonine geckos and the functional aspects of its subdigital pads. The morphology of these pads and the anatomical basis of their control suggests that Afroedura among a grouping of gekkonine geckos with phenetically similar digits, shows the greatest structural similarity to Calodactylodes. Available data do not support a robust hypothesis of actual relationship between these two genera, but if relationship is not the underlying dictator of the similarity seen, the degree of convergence is remarkable. The general similarity in digital form of those genera possessing terminal, leaf-like scansors, both in the Gekkoninae and Diplodactylinae, appears to be associated with rupicolous habitats and indicates an evolutionary pathway by which more extensive climbing pads may have arisen. It is likely that this morphotypic pathway has been followed independently by several lineages of gekkonine and diplodactyline geckos.
In the course of a review of the gekkonid genus Uroplatus some early descriptions of lizards subsequently ascribed to this genus were found to be inappropriate. The "salamanders" of Feuillée (1714) and Seba (1735) are not gekkonids at all, but accompanying illustrations, which do not agree with the textual descriptions, exhibit some gekkonid characteristics. This probably accounts for subsequent confusion. The Sarroubé of Lacépède (1788), however, is gekkonid and represents an early description of a member of the genus Phelsuma. Subsequent confusion with Uroplatus has obscured recognition of the key characteristics of the Sarroubé, and it was not until 1825 that the genus Phelsuma was formally recognized.
No comparative ecological studies have previously been conducted on the lizards of New Caledonia. This study examines two parameters of resource partitioning-diet and microhabitat, for eleven species of native lizards (Gekkonidae and Scincidae). Differences in diel activity patterns and coarse habitat differences tend to segregate geckos from skinks. Microhabitat and dietary differences were found among four sympatric species in a forest assemblage at Mt. Koyaboa, but retreat sites and some food resources were employed by all. Rock piles and crevices are important retreats for all the forest species studied and are a crude predictor of lizard abundance. Crickets and terrestrial isopods are the most important items in the diet of the predominant gecko Bavayia sauvagii. Though generally considered arboreal, this lizard is frequently active on the ground as well. Ants are an important food source of the forest skink Leiolopisma tricolor, whereas the ubiquitous ground skink Leiolopisma austrocaledonicum eats a wide variety of prey, with smaller individuals selectively taking smaller prey. Larger individuals consume feew large prey items but these may be of great energetic importance.
The skin of the Central Asian gecko Teratoscincus scincus is extremely fragile, with low tensile strength, stiffness and toughness. As in other geckos exhibiting regional integumentary loss, skin fragility results from the bilayering of the dermis and the intrinsic weakness of its outer layer. Collagen fibers of the outer portions of the dermis are nearly discontinuous in the hinge regions of the large, imbricate, cycloid scales of this species. The ecological significance of these findings is discussed.
The natural history collection of the Bolognese polymath, encyclopedist, and natural philosopher Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605) is regarded as the first museum in the modern sense of the term. It was intended as a resource for scholarship and a microcosm of the natural world, not simply a cabinet of curiosities. In addition to physical specimens, Aldrovandi’s zoological material included a large series of paintings of animals (Tavole di Animali) that were integral to the collection. Following Aldrovandi’s death, his collection was maintained by the terms of his will, but by the 19th century relatively little remained. We examined surviving herpetological components of the collection, comprising 19 specimens of ten species, as well as the corresponding paintings and associated archival material in the Museum of Palazzo Poggi, Museo di Zoologia, and Biblioteca Universitaria Bolognese in Bologna, Italy. Although the antiquity of some of these dried preparations is in question, many are documented in the Tavole di Animali and/or are mentioned in 17th century lists of the museum, verifying them as the oldest museum specimens of amphibians and reptiles in the world. Exotic species are best represented, including two specimens of Uromastyx aegyptia and several boid snakes – the first New World reptiles to be displayed in Europe. However, the Tavole di Animali suggest that the original collection was dominated by Italian taxa and that greater effort may have been made to conserve the more spectacular specimens. The Aldrovandi collection provides a tangible link to the dawn of modern herpetology in Renaissance Italy.