Gehyra versicolor, Hutchinson & Sistrom & Donnellan & Hutchinson, 2014

Hutchinson, Mark N., Sistrom, Mark J., Donnellan, Stephen C. & Hutchinson, Rhonda G., 2014, Taxonomic revision of the Australian arid zone lizards Gehyra variegata and G. montium (Squamata, Gekkonidae) with description of three new species, Zootaxa 3814 (2), pp. 221-241 : 229-233

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Gehyra versicolor

sp. nov

Gehyra versicolor sp. nov

Figs 2C–D View FIGURE 2 , 3 View FIGURE 3 , 6 View FIGURE 6 , 7 View FIGURE 7 .

Gehyra 2n=40a " variegata ”, 38a " variegata - montium ", Moritz, 1986: p. 48.

Holotype: SAMA R 51968 View Materials K, from 1.9 km SW of Reedy Hole Springs, Flinders Ranges , South Australia (30° 15’ 55ˮ S, 138° 49’ 30ˮ E), collected by J. Bice, on 19 November, 1998 ( Fig. 7A View FIGURE 7 ). GoogleMaps

Paratypes (n=28; all genotyped as ‘ Clade 5’): SAMA: R 26185 View Materials , Birdsville, Qld (25° 54’S, 139° 21’E) GoogleMaps , R 28201 View Materials , 1 km S Mt Dutton , SA (27° 49’S, 135° 43’E) GoogleMaps , R 34249 View Materials , 7 km E Mount Isa, Qld (20° 43’S, 139° 43’E) GoogleMaps , R 38930 View Materials , Yudnamatana , SA (30° 10’S, 139° 17’E) GoogleMaps , R38942, R38945 , Lancoona HS, NSW (32° 22’S, 145° 53’E) GoogleMaps , R 50277 View Materials , 7 km SSE Mt Deception, Beltana Station , SA (30° 46’S, 138° 17’E) GoogleMaps , R 51609 View Materials K, 26.1 km ENE of Mimili , SA (26° 54’ 43” S, 132° 56’ 55” E) GoogleMaps , R 51637 View Materials K, 30.3 km WNW Indulkana , SA (26° 52’ 09” S, 133° 01’ 29” E) GoogleMaps , R 51760 View Materials K, 1.75 km W Yudnamutana Bore , SA (30° 10’S, 139° 16’E) GoogleMaps , R 51782 View Materials K, 10.4 km SW Yudnamutana Bore , SA (30° 14’S, 139° 11’E) GoogleMaps , R 51912 View Materials , 0.5 km NW Nudlamutana Well , SA (30° 22’S, 139° 21’E) GoogleMaps , R 51962 View Materials K, 2.8 km W Moosha Bore , SA (30° 19’S, 138° 47’E) GoogleMaps , R 52366 View Materials , 4.7 km W Parachilna Hill , SA (31° 08’S, 138° 33’E) GoogleMaps , R 54530 View Materials , 4.5 km N Station Creek crossing, Prairie–Muttaburra road, Qld (22° 02’S, 144° 37’E) GoogleMaps , R 54546 View Materials – 47, 14 km NW Longreach on Landsborough Highway, Qld (23° 21’S, 143° 12’E) GoogleMaps , R 55133 View Materials , 2.7 km E Gluepot HS, SA (33° 45’S, 140° 09’E) GoogleMaps , R 55268 View Materials , Phosphate Hill mine, ‘ Snappy Site’, Qld (21° 53’S, 139° 59’E) GoogleMaps , R55695 View Materials –96 , 13.4 km NNE Hughenden on Kennedy Developmental Road, Qld (20° 47’S, 144° 19’E) GoogleMaps , R 55905 View Materials , 9 km N New South Wales / Queensland border on Mitchell Highway, Qld (28° 58’S, 145° 44’E) GoogleMaps , R 57970 View Materials , 30.1 km SSW Memory Bore , SA (28° 53’S, 132° 44’E) GoogleMaps , R 63576 View Materials , Mutawintja NP, NSW (31° 17’S, 142° 18’E) GoogleMaps , R 64097 View Materials , Terrapinna Springs , SA (29° 55’S, 139° 40’E) GoogleMaps , R 64443 View Materials , Mt Fitton HS, SA (28° 59’S, 139° 33’E) GoogleMaps , R 64447 View Materials , 17 km E Mt Fitton HS, SA (29° 54’S, 139° 25’E) GoogleMaps , R 64549 View Materials , 1.3 km WNW Nantawarrinna , SA (30° 49’S, 138° 58’E) GoogleMaps , R 64863 View Materials , 6.9 km WNW Arkaroola HS (30° 18’S, 139° 19’E) GoogleMaps .

Diagnosis. Morphologically shares the external features of G. variegata (see above) but distinguished from that species by karyotype (2n=40a or 2n=38a) ( Fig. 2C–D View FIGURE 2 ). As with G. variegata , G. versicolor is most similar G. montium but distinguished by grey to brown rather than more rufous dorsal colouring, with white markings that form a posterior highlight or margin on the trailing edge of the dark dorsal lines, rather than forming discrete circular dots that are not coordinated with the dark markings.

This diagnosis applies to populations of Gehyra genetically assignable to “Clade 5” of Sistrom et al. (2013).

Description. Adult snout-vent length 37–54 mm (mean = 46.7 mm, n = 29). Length of original tail 40–58 mm (mean = 110% SVL, n = 6).

Nostril bordered by rostral, first supralabial, supranasal and two subequal postnasals. Usually a single internasal scale (occasionally 2 or none) separates the supranasals above the rostral. Supralabials 8–11 (mode 9). Infralabials 7–10 (mode 9). Usually (f = 0.6) two pairs of chin shields; if a third pair is visible it is markedly smaller than the second or asymmetric, anterior pair in contact with only the first infralabial. Chin shields separated from the third and succeeding infralabials by the interpolation of a series of enlarged scales (parinfralabials) that margin the ventral edge of the infralabials. Second infralabial notched where this parinfralabial scale row starts. Scansors under pad of fourth toe divided, 7–8 (mode 8). Precloacal pores in males 10–14 (mean = 11.9, n = 15).

Most populations uniformly have the 2n=40a karyotype first reported by King (1979), but within central Australia, geographically interspersed with 2n=40a individuals, are individuals with 2n=38 karyotypes. These specimens all belong to the same clade on the basis ofsequence data. Moritz (1986) reported two variants of the 2n=38 karyotype that differ only in that the 2n=38a karyotype had pair 8 acrocentric while the 2n=38b karyotype had this pair symmetrically metacentric. Our karyotype ( Fig. 2B View FIGURE 2 ) from Native Gap (a population scored as 2n=38a by Moritz 1986) has a pair 8 that is submetacentric, neither obviously acrocentric nor symmetrically metacentric, and in fact King (1979) described and illustrated his 2n=38 karyotype (later termed the “a” variant by Moritz) as having submetacentric pairs 7 and 8, as ours does. The discrepancy may be artifactual, given the variation in condensation and clarity that is typical across karyotypic preparations. In case further cryptic species are demonstrated among these populations, we have confined our type series for G. versicolor to animals from 2n=40a populations only.

In life, dorsally light to medium grey or grey-brown, generally with a complex pattern based on one or two pairs of more or less continuous dark longitudinal irregular dorsal stripes with numerous cross links and reticulations, the dark markings all coordinated with white highlights that can form irregular spots but are consistently in contact with the darker markings as in G. variegata . In general, specimens of G. versicolor , even when strongly patterned, tend to have less distinct and contrasting patterns ( Fig. 7 View FIGURE 7 ) than do well marked G. variegata . Common variant patterns include one where some of the dark dorsal markings form back-swept angular or crescentic bars, each with a whitish spot contained in the angle of the bar, and another where the body is densely stippled with low contrast darker grey bars and blotches with only weakly apparent paler edges. None of these variations is unvarying and the colour patterns show continuous variation both within and between populations.

Distribution. Widespread from the Murray Valley of northern Victoria north and east through New South Wales west of the Great Dividing Range and similar areas of Queensland north to about the latitude of Hughenden. Extends west into most of South Australia, with the exception of the southern and western Eyre Peninsula and the Great Victoria Desert, and north-west into southern and central Northern Territory. Not currently known to occur in Western Australia. Found in both rocky and arboreal situations, as well as on buildings.

Comments. This species is the only one where we find two karyotypic groups appearing to belong to a single taxon. Moritz (1986) reported both 2n=40a and 2n=38 (a and b) from the MacDonnell Ranges and adjacent central Northern Territory, and at present our data suggests all belong to a single species, G. versicolor . As with the variable populations of G. moritzi , further detailed study combining the same multiple approaches used here are desirable to clarify the gene flow among these chromosomally different populations.

Similar detailed studies are needed in central and western Queensland to better understand the distribution and variation of G. versicolor and Clade 4 where they co-occur ( Sistrom et al. 2013), and the potential contact or overlap between G. variegata and G. versicolor in central western South Australia. However, it is clear that over the great majority of its distribution this is a single species, consistently different from other Gehyra . Most of the literature pertaining to the biology of “ Gehyra variegata ” (e.g., Bustard 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969; Henle 1990) actually applies to this species, as does recent population genetic work by Duckett and Stow (2010, 2013). Swan et al. (2004) report the maximum SVL for this species (as G. variegata ) as 57 mm.

Etymology. The specific name chosen here is from the Latin meaning ‘variable in colour’, appropriate for a species that shows considerable individual and geographic variation. Given the very wide distribution of the species it is somewhat surprising that no older name appears to be available for it in the synonymy of G. variegata . Cogger et al. (1983) listed several synonyms of Gehyra variegata . Subsequently, these have proven to be based on specimens attributable to other Australian Gehyra species groups, especially eastern species related to G. australis ( Bauer & Henle 1994; Shea 1995). Other possible synonyms were discussed by Sistrom et al. (2009) in reference to G. lazelli ; none apply to G. versicolor .


South Australia Museum


Departamento de Geologia, Universidad de Chile


Museum national d'Histoire Naturelle, Laboratiore de Paleontologie


Royal Botanic Gardens, National Herbarium of New South Wales














Gehyra versicolor

Hutchinson, Mark N., Sistrom, Mark J., Donnellan, Stephen C. & Hutchinson, Rhonda G. 2014


Moritz, C. 1986: 48