Journal of experimental zoology. Part B, Molecular and developmental evolution

Developmental stages of the climbing gecko Tarentola annularis with special reference to the claws, pad lamellae, and subdigital setae.

PMID 26055807


Studying the in ovo mode of development of squamates has the advantage of allowing easy access to embryos without surgically compromising gravid females. Despite the non-ophidian squamates being a very diverse lineage of reptiles, embryonic tables for individuals of this group are very few. Here, I present the first in ovo embryonic table for a basal multi-scansored, pad-bearing gecko, Tarentola annularis. In this gecko, only the III and IV digits bear claws. Eleven embryonic stages are described based on chronological development of morphological characteristics. In contrast to other previously studied geckos, this species exhibits a longer incubation period. Comparison with other squamates, embryonic development of T. annularis is an indicative of a conserved developmental strategy. Interestingly, the clawless digits of this gecko do exhibit claws during the first half of embryonic development. Thus, regression of claws in these digits could be an advantage of studying this particular taxon, as it raises the question, to be answered in future study, of which mechanisms could be responsible for such claw regression. Before hatching, the outer periderm layer sloughs revealing the functional setae. The present study provides not only a model for pentadactyl limbs and digit development, but also an example of a unique developmental phenomenon, as represented by claw regression.