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Keywords:

  • Amazon;
  • Chatogekko gen. nov.;
  • Coleodactylus;
  • lizard;
  • morphology;
  • osteology;
  • phylogeny;
  • polytomy;
  • Squamata

Sphaerodactyl geckos comprise five genera distributed across Central and South America and the Caribbean. We estimated phylogenetic relationships among sphaerodactyl genera using both separate and combined analyses of seven nuclear genes. Relationships among genera were incongruent at different loci and phylogenies were characterized by short, in some cases zero-length, internal branches and poor phylogenetic support at most nodes. We recovered a polyphyletic Coleodactylus, with Coleodactylus amazonicus being deeply divergent from the remaining Coleodactylus species sampled. The C. amazonicus lineage possessed unique codon deletions in the genes PTPN12 and RBMX while the remaining Coleodactylus species had unique codon deletions in RAG1. Topology tests could not reject a monophyletic Coleodactylus, but we show that short internal branch lengths decreased the accuracy of topology tests because there were not enough data along these short branches to support one phylogenetic hypothesis over another. Morphological data corroborated results of the molecular phylogeny, with Coleodactylus exhibiting substantial morphological heterogeneity. We identified a suite of unique craniofacial features that differentiate C. amazonicus not only from other Coleodactylus species, but also from all other geckos. We describe this novel sphaerodactyl lineage as a new genus, Chatogekko gen. nov. We present a detailed osteology of Chatogekko, characterizing osteological correlates of miniaturization that provide a framework for future studies in sphaerodactyl systematics and biology.

© 2011 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2011, 163, 1244–1266.