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Prof. Dr. Bayram GÖÇMEN

Zoologist, Herpetologist, Protozoologist/Parasitologist,             Nature Photographer

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(Sauria: Eublepharidae) of the WORLD

Eublepharis turcmenicus Darevsky, 1977

(Turkestan Leopard Gecko, Turkmenian Fat-Tailed Gecko)


Bufo viridis specimen from Kilis (Turkey)

A female Green toad, Bufo viridis specimen from Kilis (Turkey), photo by B. Göçmen.

  Eublepharis turcmenicus Darevsky in Bannikov, et at, 1977:83-84; 1978:204-209, figs 1-2 (Type locality: Bakharden, Kopet Dag, Turkmenistan. Holotype: ZIL 10103). Welch, 1983:7. -Szczerbak and Golubev, 1986:30-33, figs. 7-9, col. p1.1, fig. 3. Grismer, 1988: 441-452. -Kluge, 1991:8; 1993:10. -Grismer, 1991:251-253.

Eublepharis turcmenicus (Photo by Mr. Rösler, after Mr. Rösler's Book)



Macrovipera lebetina lebetina from Cyprus

Blunt-nosed viper,  Macrovipera lebetina lebetina from Dikmen, N. Cyprus, photo by B. Göçmen.

Diagnosis: Subdigital lamellae with weakly developed small tubercles; chin shields not in contact with first lower labials; ventral scales hexagonal; elements of dorsal color pattern not linearly confluent, 5-9 preanal pores, interrupted medially by 1-4 scales lacking pores (Fig. A in key); mental scale shorter than wide; 54-55 eyelid fringe scales; widely spaced, pro­nounced and pointed dorsal tubercles, much smaller in­ter-tubercle granules; hexagonal ventral scales in 20-22 longitudinal rows; width of rostral 1½ times its height; undivided terminal subdigital lamellar scales; 3-4 transverse rows of ventral scales in each caudal whorl; dorsal scales of regenerated tail circular and slightly convex; supratemporal bone present, but smaller than in all other members of genus; a straight pterygoid-palatine suture; a longitudinally-directed crest on ventral portion of basioccipital anterior to spheno-occipital tubercles, posterior section of basioccipital smoothly rounded; posterior margin of coronoid shelf does not contact the adductor fossa; clavicle extending above the scapulocoracoid and making broad contact with the suprascapula (Grismer, 1991:251-252).

Color pattern: Dorsum pinkish-white, with pattern of irregular elongate dark brown blotches on head, irregular roundish to squarish dark brown spots on back arranged to form more or less distinct broad transverse bars, these bars more distinct on tail; limbs with scattered dark spots; venter immaculate white.

Size: Snout-vent 130 mm, tail 80 mm. Kaverkin and Orlov (1996:99) give the overall length (tail included) of a hatchling female as 83.5 mm.

Habitat: Stony foothills of the Kopet Dagh, occupying hill slopes composed of crumbled schists and rock fragments and covered with Artemisia and Ephedra and sometimes trees, Paliurus spinachristi. They have been collected where burrows of Microtus afghanus, Meriones persica, or Ochotona rufescens were common. (Szczerbak and Golubev, 1986:30; 1996:31).

Natural history: See Szczerbak and Golubev (1986: 31-33; 1996: 31-32) and Rustamov et al. (1985). Rösler and Szczerbak (1993) recorded observations on growth, color pattern development and feeding for a young female specimen from Turkmenistan in captivity. Kaverkin and Orlov (1996: 99) recorded their experiences with captive breeding of this species. Szczerbak and Golubev (1986:32; 1996:32) report food items from the feces of a single individual as including Heteroptera, Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, and a lacertid, probably Eremias strauchi. These authors also provide remarks on behavior of captive specimens.

Distribution: Known only from the valleys of the Kopet Dagh in northern Iran and adjacent southern Turkmenistan.

Remarks: Through the courtesy of Ilya Darevsky, Prof. Dr. Steven C. Anderson examined a single specimen of this species in 1966, and more recently, a second specimen (CAS 184771), also from Turkmenistan (39007’N/55008’E), collected by Theodore Papenfuss and Robert Macey. This taxon appears to be closest to Eublepharis macularius, but it is intermediate between E. angramainyu and E. macularius in certain characters. In E. angramainyu the subdigital lamellae are absolutely smooth, while in F. macularius they bear distinct small tubercles; in E. turcmenicus the lamellae are weakly but distinctly tuberculate. The dorsal color pattern is broken up into dark blotches, some of the blotches rather linearly arranged, but not longitudinally confluent as they are in E. angramainyu; remnants of two dorsal crossbars can just be distinguished. The mid-dorsal tubercles are subequal to the intertubercular spaces, more like E. macularius than E. angramainyu. In the specimens Prof. Steven C. Anderson examined there were 7 and 8 preanal pores, the series interrupted in two places by scales without pores in one specimen, and in the center in the other, differing in this respect from the other two species; the mental is followed by two large chin shields in contact with one another, or separated by a scale, but the chin is more like that of E. macularius in lacking rows of conspicuously enlarged scales between labials and gulars. The mental scale is shorter than wide, as in E. macularius and E.. angramainyu. Grismer (1988:446) states that E. macularius is the only eublepharid species other than Aelunoscalabotes that has a cleft terminal subdigital lamella. In none of the specimens of E. macularius, angramainyu, or turcmenicus that Prof. Anderson examined can he find a cleft subdigital lamella. CAS 184771 has three ventral caudal scales in the central row of each caudal whorl in the anterior third of tail, four in the posterior two-thirds, whereas specimens of E. angramainyu have two and three, respectively, while the E. macularius that Prof. Anderson have examined have three throughout the length of the tail. I count 21 ventral scales across the midbody in CAS 184771, whereas Grismer gives 27-38 for E. angramainyu and 2 1-30 for E. macularius. Reluctant to do destructive dissection on the only available specimen of E. turcmenicus, Prof. Anderson  has not checked Grismer’s osteological characters. Grismer (1988:442-450), without specimens of E. turcmenicus, and therefore based on the literature, felt that E. turcmenicus is virtually indistinguishable from E. angramainyu, and may be at best subspecifically distinct. Subsequently, be examined three specimens (Grismer, 1991), which be checked against the character analysis of his previous work. He concluded that F. turcmenicus is the sister taxon of E. maculariuss, and E. angramainyu the sister of that clade. The fourth species, E. hardwickii, is the sister taxon to all other species in the genus. The question of specific or subspecific differentiation of allopatric populations is, of course, a philosophical one, dependent upon what species concept one uses. All of the specimens Prof. Anderson has examined are readily identifiable with one or another of the four taxa which Grismer recognizes tentatively at the species level. Grismer’s (1991) conclusions are congruent with the prediction on biogeographical grounds that E. turcmenicus would be the sister taxon of E. macularius, considering the number of reptilian species common to Pakistan and Turkmenistan-Khorassan, but currently separated by the massif of the Hindu Kush.

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White-striped skink,  Eumeces pavimentatus

A female White-striped skink,  Eumeces pavimentatus specimen from Adana (Turkey), photo by B. Göçmen.



female Desert cobra  Walterinnesia aegyptia specimen from Kilis

A female Desert cobra,  Walterinnesia aegyptia specimen from Kilis (Turkey), photo by B. Göçmen.

©Bayram GÖÇMEN,  All Rights Reserved.