Burton’s Legless Lizard is NOT a gecko, they are from the family pygopodidae not gekkonidae…
Legless lizards have their own family… Just quietly.
Incorrect. Pygopodidae are within the infraorder Gekkota, closely related to the other geckos of…
Well what I was taught is that Gekkonidae and pygopodidae are two separate families and whilst both are Gekkota and are closely related, Burton’s Legless Lizards are not a gecko. Gekkota comprises of geckos AND Legless lizards.
Similar is not the same in this instance.
to be honest, using common names is pedantic. Pygopodids ARE geckos, because the Gekkota are referred to as geckos. All of them. Otherwise the term ‘gecko’ becomes a paraphyletic group, and we can’t have that. it’s bad enough that the ‘lizards’ are a paraphyletic group (snakes are nested within them).
Geckos are lizards, so you can call them legless lizards if you want. But it doesn’t change the fact that they have all lost their legs, which at one point almost certainly had adhesive toe structures, and are therefore legless geckos. And their closest relatives are all conventional geckos. I use the term legless gecko to distinguish between these and skinks and anguimorphs, mostly because geckos are the oldest squamate radiation, and therefore it makes sense to differentiate.
So call them legless lizards all you want - it is true. But it is more informative to call them legless geckos, and completely incorrect to state that they are not legless geckos.
Also it is really frakking awesome that geckos of all animals have lost their legs in this radiation! So it’s cool to make a point of it.
With all due respect, saying a Legless lizard is a gecko because it is under the suborder ‘Gekkota’ is the same as saying chameleons, agamids and anoles are Iguanas because they are under the suborder Iguania.
I am not trying to undermine you or disrespect the vast amount of knowledge you have.
I am simply saying that Gekkota includes Blind Lizards, Legless Lizards and Geckos. However that does not make a Legless lizard a gecko, it just means they are closely related.
I am not saying it is a gecko just because it is under the suborder Gekkota. That would, as you say, be a little bit ridiculous considering how we refer to the members of the Iguanians (n.b. there is no official way to refer to orders and infraorders and families in common name form, but we always try to avoid paraphyletic and polyphyletic classifications).
HOWEVER, the most recent research (Gamble et al. 2012, PLoS One 7(6):e39429, and Pyron et al. 2013, BMC Evolutionary Biology 13:93) has shown that the Pygopodids are NOT sister to all other geckos (which would justify the use of a separate term for them), but rather are sister to Carphodactylidae, which contains the gecko genera Nephrurus (Knob-tailed geckos), Underwoodisaurus, Orraya, Saltuarius (Australian leaf-tailed geckos), etc.:
Together, this pair is sister to the Dyplodactylidae, which contains such famous geckos as Correlophus ciliatus, the crested gecko, and Rhacodactylus leachianus, ‘leachies’.
This sister relationship with Carphodactylidae, which we call geckos, and together this pair’s relationship with the Dyplodactylidae, which we also call geckos, MAKES them geckos. We call their sisters geckos. They are nested deeply within the geckos. They certainly evolved from the common ancestor of all of the geckos. As we call every other branch of this tree ‘geckos’, it would render it a paraphyletic term to call one tip nested deeply inside (i.e. the Pygopodids) anything but geckos. Therefore they are geckos.
As it happens, geckos ARE lizards, so my point is (as I said before) that it is FINE to call them ‘legless lizards’, but to assert, as you do, that they are not legless geckos is incorrect. By every definition, they are geckos that have lost their legs.
Also, the ‘blind lizards’, Family Dibamidae, are no longer thought to belong to the Gekkota (see Pyron et al. 2013, BMC Evolutionary Biology 13:93). That makes the Gekkota a monophyletic group of geckos.
Interestingly, the term ‘lizard’, the term used for all members of the Squamata that have a similar bauplan (formerly ‘Lacertilia’, i.e. not snakes) is a paraphyletic term, because phylogenetically, ‘lizards’ contain the Toxicofera, within which we find the snakes (again, see Pyron et al. 2013. That paper is really fantastic, I highly recommend giving it a read if you are interested in herpetological evolution/deep lineage relationships). So It is better to refer to all ‘lizard’ groups by their proper names (Geckos, Iguanids, Varanids, etc.), rather than simply calling them lizards. Thus, I contend that the term ‘legless lizard’ should really be abolished altogether.
Figure source [x]
I had a lecturer once tell me that the plural noun of taxonomists was “An Argument”.