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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Madagascar Day 2: Leaf-tail Geckos

Lined leaf-tail gecko / gestreepte bladstaartgekko

Lined leaf-tail gecko / gestreepte bladstaartgekko

26 July 2008.
In Exotic Reserve Peyrieras they also had a bunch of Leaf-tail Geckos (Bladstaartgekko's). These weird creatures form a distinct group, yet the lineage and their place between other geckos is still a bit of a mystery. But let's not go that way.

Giant leaf-tail gecko / reuzenbladstaartgekko

The Leaf-tail Geckos (or Leaf-tailed Geckos) are within the genus of Uroplatus. They all have flat bodies and a flat leaf shaped tail. They are incredibly well camouflaged. In a reserve like this one it's easy. They just take them out of their cage and you make the photos. In the wild I've also encountered several Leaf-tail geckos. I'm reasonably good at spotting wild life. But these geckos? The guide points them out. Still oblivious what he's pointing at. Only at closer inspection you actually see the gecko. Their camouflage is brilliant, they press their body flat against the trunk of a tree, blending in with the bark. The side edges of some species even have some mossy filaments so you won't see any transition between the gecko and the tree.

Southern leaf-tail gecko / mosbladstaartgekko

I love them. Even their eyes are camouflaged! When they open their mouths - when threatened they do so - you'll see less camouflage: bright orange and red colours. That sudden flash should scare away any predators :-)I've now published photos of 3 Leaf-tail geckos. Have a close look at the Southern Leaf-tail Gecko (Mosbladstaartgekko). The camouflage is striking. I have pictures - not yet online - of this one on a trunk of a tree. You just don't see it. You really have to look closely. Look at the eyes as well. I've never seen such beautiful, spectacular and even camouflaged eyes. Weird marble pattern...
With the Giant Leaf-tail Gecko you can see how it blends in with the dead palm leaves. The colour and texture is just perfect.
I've shown pictures of the Lined Leaf-tail Gecko (Gestreepte Bladstaartgekko) to my family. Especially my sister did not believe the picture - the first photo of this blog - was real. They sell a lot of toys and souvenirs to tourists in Madagascar. Made of sisal, palm leaves or raffia. She believed it was fake. It could not be a real animal. Until I showed her multiple pictures of the same animal, moving around. This Leaf-tail gecko has a stunning beauty with elegant lines. A marvel of natural design and evolution!

Southern leaf-tail gecko / mosbladstaartgekko

For those who like the biological details:
Click a link and you'll go to the page for that rank in the biological classification.

There is still quite some debate within the scientific world on how to classify the suborders and infraordes within Squamata. Here I've joined the snakes and geckos together in one suborder (in a previous post I placed the snakes classically still in their own suborder).
Kingdom:Animalia (320)
Phylum:Chordata (284)
Class:Reptilia (9)
Order:Squamata (9)
Scaled ReptilesSchubreptielen
Suborder:Scleroglossa (7)
Monitors, Snakes, Geckos, SkinksVaranen, Gekko's, Skinken, Slangen
Infraorder:Gekkota (7)
Geckos, Blind Lizards, Legless LizardsGekko's, Blinde Hagedissen, Slanghagedissen
Family:Gekkonidae (7)
Subfamily:Gekkoninae (7)
Genus:Uroplatus (7)
Leaf-tail Geckos or Flat-Tail GeckosBladstaartgekko's
Species:Uroplatus fimbriatus
Giant Leaf-tailed GeckoReuzenbladstaartgekko
Species:Uroplatus lineatus (0)
Lined Leaf-tail GeckoGestreepte Bladstaartgekko
Species:Uroplatus sikorae (0)
Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko or Mossy Leaf-tailed GeckoMosbladstaartgekko

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