Hoplodactylus delcourti was described from a partial specimen of unknown locality (Bauer & Russell 1986). This species is named after Alain Delcourt, curator of the herpetological collection at the Musée d’Histoire Naturelle de Marseille whom brought the holotype to the attention of Bauer & Russell (1986). The animal has been associated with the kawekaweau, a reptile of Maori legend. Other variants of this name include kaweau (Manning (1863a, 1863b), Mair 1873) and koeau (Willams 1975 ).
None. The gigantic size distinguishes this species from all known New Zealand geckos. This gecko is by far the largest gekkonid species known to have lived (Bauer & Russell 1986).
Extremely large size.
Delcourt's gecko; Kawekaweau
A massive gecko (size 370mm SVL, total length ~ 620mm). This species would have reached over 1kg in weight (Hitchmough 1997). Dorsal surface yellowish-brown with dark reddish-brown longitudinal stripes. This colour pattern is similar to those found in Toropuku. stephensi, Woodworthia chrysosireticus, some specimens of both W. maculatus and Dactylocnemis paciflcus.The two broad dorsal stripes, extending from either side of the parietal region to the level of the cloaca, are separated for most of their length by a narrow mid-dorsal stripe of background colour. Dorsolateral and lateral stripes extend from the axilla to the groin. No patterns are discemable on the tail or limbs. Ventral surface unmarked, slightly lighter in colour than the dorsal. It should be noted that the colour of the specimen may have been altered by the method of preservation. The specimen, in addition to being tanned, appears to be coated in some type of shellac or varnish that has yellowed with time. The colour in life was probably light-brown with the darker, dorsal stripes being a dark brick-red, and the venter cream (Bauer & Russell 1986).
A number of the older descriptions of the lizards of Maori legend are suggestive of H. delcourti, especially that by Mair (1873). In this account, Mair mentions on the existence of a large forest lizard, which was known to the Maoris as kaweau. "In 1870 an Urewera chief killed one under the loose bark of a dead rata, in the Waimana Valley, he described it to me as being about two feet long and as thick as a man’s wrist; colour brown, striped longitudinally with dull red.” (Mair 1873) . This description matches well the size and colour of H. delcourti, and the position of the lizard, under bark, is not inconsistent with the known daytime retreats of other large geckos. This and other nineteenth century reports of the kaweau or kawekaweau from North Island localities are discussed by Hardy (1977) whom suggests a connection between this reptile and the skink Leiolopisrna (=Oligosoma) gracilicorpus (now synonymized by Chapple et al 2009 into Oligosoma homalonotum). The actual identity of the kawekaweau remains in doubt but it is likely to be that of H. delcourti (Bauer & Russell 1986). Anecdotal reports of kawekaweau are Mair (1873), Buller (1871, 1895), Walsh (1905) and Best (1909, 1923).
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