Reappraising the Evolutionary History of the Largest Known Gecko, the Presumably Extinct Hoplodactylus delcourti, via High-Throughput Sequencing of Archival DNA

Document Type


Publication Date



Nature Publishing Group

Source Publication

Scientific Reports

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1038/S41598-023-35210-8


Hoplodactylus delcourti is a presumably extinct species of diplodactylid gecko known only from a single specimen of unknown provenance. It is by far the largest known gekkotan, approximately 50% longer than the next largest-known species. It has been considered a member of the New Zealand endemic genus Hoplodactylus based on external morphological features including shared toe pad structure. We obtained DNA from a bone sample of the only known specimen to generate high-throughput sequence data suitable for phylogenetic analysis of its evolutionary history. Complementary sequence data were obtained from a broad sample of diplodactylid geckos. Our results indicate that the species is not most closely related to extant Hoplodactylus or any other New Zealand gecko. Instead, it is a member of a clade whose living species are endemic to New Caledonia. Phylogenetic comparative analyses indicate that the New Caledonian diplodactylid clade has evolved significantly more disparate body sizes than either the Australian or New Zealand clades. Toe pad structure has changed repeatedly across diplodactylids, including multiple times in the New Caledonia clade, partially explaining the convergence in form between H. delcourti and New Zealand Hoplodactylus. Based on the phylogenetic results, we place H. delcourti in a new genus.


Scientific Reports, Vol. 13 (2023). DOI.