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Nephrurus is a relatively large (up to 150 mm) Australian gecko (Gekkota, Diplodactylinae) characterised by a distinct round knob at the end of its short, rather fat tail. It is distributed throughout most of Australia, and lives predominantly in arid or semi-arid habitats with rocky or sandy terrains. Although primarily an invertebrate feeder (insects, spiders, scorpions), it will also sometimes prey on smaller lizards.
As in all gekkotans (see also Hemitheconyx and Coleonyx), the postorbital and upper temporal bars are absent, permitting extensive kinesis (metakinesis, mesokinesis, streptostyly), at least in young animals. The skull of Nephrurus (particularly N. asper and N. levis) is unusual amongst geckos in showing an exceptional degree of ontogenetic variation: the adults are characterised by heavy dermal ossification and tubercular sculpture over the parietals, frontals, and postfrontals, and to a varying degree over the squamosals and prefrontals, as well as pronounced lateral extension of the roofing elements. The skull shown here is not mature: it lacks sculpture, the median parietal suture is irregular, the parietal is still embayed laterally and posteriorly (on either side of the midline), and the postorbitofrontal and squamosal are gracile.
Additional Information on the Skull
Click on the thumbnails below for a detailed description of the skull in standard anatomical views.
Click on the thumbnails below for a description of internal features of the skull based on selected coronal slices.
About the Species
This frozen specimen originated in the pet trade and no locality information is known. It was made available to the University of Texas High-Resolution X-ray CT Facility for scanning by Dr. Jessie Maisano of The University of Texas and Dr. Jacques Gauthier of Yale University. Funding for scanning and image processing was provided by an NSF grant (DEB-0132227) to Dr. Jack Sites of Brigham Young University.
About this Specimen
This specimen was scanned by Matthew Colbert on 12 December 2002 along the coronal axis for a total of 554 slices. Each slice is 0.0417 mm thick, with an interslice spacing of 0.0417 mm and a field of reconstruction of 19.9 mm.
Boulenger, G. A. 1885-1887. Catalogue of the Lizards in the British Museum (Natural History), London.
Greer, A. E. 1989. The Biology and Evolution of Australian Lizards. Chipping Norton: Surrey Beatty and Sons.
Kluge, A. G. 1967a. Higher taxonomic categories of gekkonid lizards and their evolution. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 135:1-60.
Kluge, A. G. 1967b. Systematics, phylogeny and zoogeography of the lizard genus Diplodactylus Gray (Gekkonidae). Australian Journal of Zoology 15:1007-1108.
Kluge, A. G. 1976. Phylogenetic relationships in the lizard family Pygopodidae: an evaluation of theory, methods and data. Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 152:1-71.
Kluge, A. G. 1987. Cladistic relationships in the Gekkonoidea (Squamata, Sauria). Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 173:1-54.
Stephenson, N. G. 1960. The comparative osteology of Australian geckos and its bearing on their morphological status. Journal of the Linnean Society of London, Zoology 64:278-299.
Underwood, G. 1954. On the classification and evolution of geckos. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 124:469-492.
Nephrurus levis page on the EMBL Reptile Database
Nephrurus levis care sheet by Justin Julander
knob-tailed geckos on knobtails.com