Kawekaweau

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Kawekaweau
Conservation status

Extinct  (1870) (IUCN 2.3)[1]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Lacertilia
Infraorder: Gekkota
Family: Diplodactylidae
Genus: Hoplodactylus
Species: H. delcourti
Binomial name
Hoplodactylus delcourti
Bauer & Russell, 1986 [2]

The kawekaweau (Hoplodactylus delcourti), also commonly known as Delcourt's sticky-toed gecko[3] or Delcourt's giant gecko, is a species of lizard which was by far the largest of all geckos with a snout-to-vent length of 370 mm (14.6 in) and an overall length of at least 600 mm (23.6 in).[4] It was endemic to New Zealand, and is now believed to be extinct.[1][a]

History[edit]

In 1870, a Māori chief killed a kawekaweau he found under the bark of a dead rata tree in the forests of the Waimana Valley[7] (now protected as part of the northern section of Te Urewera National Park[8]). This is the only documented report of anyone ever seeing one of these animals alive.[7] He described it as being "brownish with reddish stripes and as thick as a man's wrist". A single stuffed museum specimen was "discovered" in the basement of the Natural History Museum of Marseille in 1986;[6] however, the origins and date of collection of the specimen remain a mystery, as when it was found, it was not labelled.[7] Scientists examining it eventually concluded it was from New Zealand and was in fact the lost "kawekaweau", a giant and mysterious forest lizard of Maori oral tradition.

Etymology[edit]

This animal's specific epithet is taken from the surname of French museum worker Alain Delcourt, who discovered the forgotten specimen in the basement of the Natural History Museum of Marseille.[3][6]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The largest extant species of gecko is Leach's giant gecko of New Caledonia, at 360 mm (14.2 in) long;[5] the endangered Duvaucel's gecko is the largest surviving species of gecko in New Zealand, also one of the largest in the world.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b World Conservation Monitoring Centre (1996). "Hoplodactylus delcourti ". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  2. ^ The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
  3. ^ a b Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M. 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Hoplodactylus delcourti, p. 69).
  4. ^ Kerry-Jayne Wilson (2004). Flight of the Huia: Ecology and Conservation of New Zealand's Frogs, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals. Christchurch, N.Z: Canterbury University Press. ISBN 0-908812-52-3. 
  5. ^ Allison Ballance and Rod Morris, Island Magic; Wildlife of the South Seas, David Bateman publishing, 2003.
  6. ^ a b c Brian Gill and Tony Whitaker, New Zealand Frogs and Reptiles, David Bateman Publishing, 1996. ISBN 978-1869532642.
  7. ^ a b c Bauer AM, Russell AP. "Hoplodactylus delcourti n. sp. (Reptilia: Gekkonidae), the largest known gecko", New Zealand Journal of Zoology (1986), Vol. 13: 141–148. doi:10.1080/03014223.1986.10422655
  8. ^ "Waimana Valley tracks". New Zealand Department of Conservation. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 

Further reading[edit]

  • New Zealand frogs and reptiles, Brian Gill and Tony Whitaker, David Bateman publishing, 1996

External links[edit]