Hoplodactylus delcourti, also commonly known as kawekaweau, Delcourt's sticky-toed gecko or Delcourt's giant gecko, is an extinct species of lizard, the largest known of all geckos with a snout-to-vent length (SVL) of 370 mm (14.6 in) and an overall length (including tail) of at least 600 mm (23.6 in). It was perhaps endemic to New Zealand, where it may have been called kawekaweau.[a] The idea that the two are identical has been contested.
According to his own report, 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, (now protected as part of the northern section of Te Urewera National Park). This is the only documented report of anyone ever seeing one of these animals alive. He described it as being "brownish with reddish stripes and as thick as a man's wrist". Whether his story was true or not is unknown. A single stuffed museum specimen was "discovered" in the basement of the Natural History Museum of Marseille in 1986; however, the origins and date of collection of the specimen remain a mystery, as when it was found, it was not labelled. 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.
This animal's specific epithet, delcourti, 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.
- World Conservation Monitoring Centre (1996). "Hoplodactylus delcourti". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 1996: e.T10254A3185278. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.1996.RLTS.T10254A3185278.en. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
- "Hoplodactylus delcourti ". The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
- Bauer AM, Russell AP (1986). "Hoplodactylus delcourti n. sp. (Reptilia: Gekkonidae), the largest known gecko" Archived 2013-04-20 at the Wayback Machine, New Zealand Journal of Zoology 13: 141–148. doi:10.1080/03014223.1986.10422655
- Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Hoplodactylus delcourti, p. 69).
- Wilson, Kerry-Jayne (2004). Flight of the Huia: Ecology and Conservation of New Zealand's Frogs, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals. Christchurch, New Zealand: Canterbury University Press. ISBN 0-908812-52-3.
- Ballance, Allison; Morris, Rod (2003). Island Magic; Wildlife of the South Seas. David Bateman Publishing.
- Gill, Brian; Whitaker, Tony (1996). New Zealand Frogs and Reptiles. David Bateman Publishing. ISBN 978-1869532642.
- Worthy, T. H. (March 1997). "Quaternary fossil fauna of South Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand". Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 27 (1): 67–162. doi:10.1080/03014223.1997.9517528.
- Tennyson, Alan J. D. (2010). "The origin and history of New Zealand's terrestrial vertebrates" (PDF). New Zealand Ecological Society. 34 (1): 6–27.
- "Waimana Valley tracks". New Zealand Department of Conservation. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
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