Dwarves in a Big World: Two New Species of Tropiocolotes (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Sahara Desert, with the First Detailed Skull Description of the Genus
The Sahara Desert is the largest ecoregion in Africa, but its biodiversity in general, and reptile biodiversity in particular, are only superficially known and probably grossly underestimated. The dwarf-lizard genus Tropiocolotes is widely distributed in the region. The genus’ taxonomy is plagued by serious nomenclatural problems that have led to a series of misidentifications of specimens in collections and in the literature. Analyzing variation in meristic and osteological characters of the Saharan species of Tropiocolotes, we found individuals from Algeria with unique external and internal morphological characters that distinguish them from all other species in the genus. We present a detailed account of these characters and describe two new species of Tropiocolotes from Algeria. Additionally, we provide the first detailed description of skulls of the genus, and designate a neotype to T. steudneri.