Hemidactylus Brookii Gray, 1845,

Mahony, Stephen, 2011, Taxonomic revision of Hemidactylus brookii Gray: a re-examination of the type series and some Asian synonyms, and a discussion of the obscure species Hemidactylus subtriedrus Jerdon (Reptilia: Gekkonidae), Zootaxa 3042, pp. 37-67: 41

publication ID

http://doi.org/ 10.5281/zenodo.278832

persistent identifier


treatment provided by


scientific name

Hemidactylus Brookii Gray, 1845


Syntypes of Hemidactylus Brookii Gray, 1845 

The species Hemidactylus brookii  was originally described based on three specimens in the collection of the British Museum of Natural History ( BMNH). The specimens were reported to originate from Borneo (two) and Australia (one), the latter locality doubted by several subsequent authors (e.g., Gray 1867; Loveridge 1941; Bauer et al. 2010 b). Upon examination of these three specimens it becomes apparent that two morphologically distinct forms are represented in the type series, reinforcing the original statement of two geographic populations. The two specimens, BMNH 1947.3. 6.47 (formerly BM RR1934.9.1.49[. 21.a]) from “Borneo”, and BMNH 1947.3. 6.49 (formerly BM RR1934.9.1.51[. 21.b]) from “ Australia ” form a morphologically unique pair, which considerably differ from the third specimen BMNH 1947.3. 6.48 (formerly BM RR1934.9.1.50[. 21.b]) from “Borneo”. There are numerous possible hypothesis for the above circumstances, but the most obvious explanation is a simple case of mistagging of specimens. All three specimens are currently maintained in their original separate jars and are individually tagged with the current 1947 labels only. There is no evidence to suggest that these specimens were individually tagged with the old (1934) labels, as the specimens do not have constriction “damage” indicative of multiple specimen tags that may have been removed. It is safe to assume that prior to 1947, the specimens were not individually tagged. Each specimens identity at that time therefore relied on which jar the untagged specimen was placed after examination by scientists. Under this circumstance, the likelihood that two specimens were misplaced in each other’s jars, is very high. In 1947, the specimens were directly tagged with details corresponding to the label on their individual jars, and at this time one Borneo specimen was in the Australia specimen jar, and vice versa, leading to the current confusion. In this case the morphologically distinct form would represent the single specimen originally labelled from “ Australia ” and the remaining two specimens would represent the Borneo species. A remark regarding this problem has been added to the BMNH specimen register upon recent notification (Patrick Campbell in litt. 2011).

In the original description, Gray (1845) neither designates a holotype nor does he describe any one of the three specimens in more detail than the others. Boulenger (1898) was the first, without explanation, to restrict the type locality to Borneo (followed by, but often incorrectly attributed to Smith 1935), either as an error, or intentionally. Regardless, the species represented by two specimens ( BMNH 1947.3. 6.47 and BMNH 1947.3.6.49) from Borneo is herein redescribed and retained as the material representing Hemidactylus brookii  s.s. According to the BMNH specimen register and comparison with the syntypes, BMNH 1947.3. 6.47 represents the specimen figured by Gray (1867:Pl. 15, Fig. 2View FIGURE 2. A; 1875:Pl. 15, Fig. 2View FIGURE 2. A –– see here Fig. 1View FIGURE 1 A), which is here designated as the lectotype for H. brookii  in order to define the morphology of this species. The third specimen ( BMNH 1947.3.6.48) from “ Australia ”, representing a morphologically distinct species of Hemidactylus  , is considered conspecific with H. tenkatei  .