Gigarcanum delcourti (Bauer & Russell, 1986)

Delcourt's (giant) gecko



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Hoplodactylus delcourti Bauer & Russell, 1986


Conservation Status


IUCN RedList  status: Extinct



New Caledonia


Although believed by (Bauer & Russell, 1986) to have come from New Zealand because of its taxonomic affinities with the herpetofauna of that country, Towns & Daugherty (1994) were more cautious in their assessment, noting that "evidence of a New Zealand origin is still circumstantial" (p. 326). Hitchmough et al. (2010) summarized the evidence in favour of a New Zealand origin of the only known specimen:

"linked to New Zealand only by its taxonomic position and agreement in appearance with Māori and early European settler reports" (p. 211)

Given that both New Caledonia and New Zealand are herpetologically well explored, if it did indeed originate from either then its survival to the present is very unlikely. However, if the specimen came from somewhere else then it's continued existence may or may not be more probable, depending upon its true geographical origin. DNA from the only known specimen was finally sequenced, confirming its New Caledonian affinities (Heinicke et al., 2023).


Biology & Ecology




Only known from the holotype.

Holotype: MMNH 1985-38 (Bauer & Russell, 1986)






Original scientific description:

Bauer, Aaron M. and Russell, Anthony P. (1986). Hoplodactylus delcourti n. sp. (Reptilia: Gekkonidae), the largest known gecko. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 13(1): 141-148.


Species Bibliography:

John Andrews. 'European discovery of plants and animals - Cook’s second voyage, and the French', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 14-Nov-12 

Bauer, Aaron M. and Russell, Anthony P. (1987). Hoplodactylus delcourti (Reptilia: Gekkonidae) and the Kawekaweau of Maori Folklore. Journal of Ethnobiology 7: 83-91.

Bauer, Aaron M. and Russell, Anthony P. (1988). Osteological Evidence for the Prior Occurrence of a Giant Gecko in Otago, New Zealand. Cryptozoology 7: 22-37.

Bauer, Aaron M. and Russell, Anthony P. (1990). Recent Advances in the Search for the Living Giant Gecko of New Zealand. Cryptozoology 9: 66-73.

Author? (1990). Search for Giant Gecko Intensifies. ISC Newsletter 9(4): 1-4.

Heinicke, M.P., Nielsen, S.V., Bauer, A.M. et al. (2023). Reappraising the evolutionary history of the largest known gecko, the presumably extinct Hoplodactylus delcourti, via high-throughput sequencing of archival DNA. Scientific Reports 13: 9141.

Hitchmough, R.; Anderson, P.; Barr, B.; Monks, J.; Lettink, M.; Reardon, J.; Tocher, M.; Whitaker, T. (2013). Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, 2012. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 2. Department of Conservation, Wellington. 16 pp.

Hitchmough, R.; Barr, B.; Lettink,M.; Monks, J.; Reardon, J.; Tocher, M.; van Winkel, D.; Rolfe, J. (2016). Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, 2015. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 17. Department of Conservation, Wellington. 14 pp.

Hitchmough, R. A., Hoare, J. M., Jamieson, H., Newman, D., Tocher, M. D., Anderson, P. J., Lettink, M. and Whitaker, A. H. (2010). Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, 2009. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 37(3): 203-224.

Hitchmough, R., van Winkel, D., Lettink, M. & Chapple, D. 2019. Hoplodactylus delcourti. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T10254A120158840. Accessed on 02 July 2022.

Holmes, Branden. (2021). What's Lost and What Remains: The Sixth Extinction in 100 Accounts (eBook). Self published.

Hutton, F. W. (1899). On a supposed rib of the kumi, or ngarara. Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 31: 485.

Naish, Darren. (2004). New Zealand’s giant gecko: a review of current knowledge of Hoplodactylus delcourti and the kawekaweau of legend. The Cryptozoology Review 4(2): 17-21.

Raynal, Michel and Dethier, Michel. (1990). Lézards géants des Maoris: La verité derrière la légende. Bulletin Mensuel de la Société Linnéene de Lyon 59: 85-91.

Regalado, Pedro Galán. (2015). Los Anfibios y Reptiles Extinguidos: Herpetofauna Desaparecida Desde el Año 1500. Monografías de la Universidade da Coruña 155: 1-509.

Shuker, Karl P. N. (2012). The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals. Coachwhip Publications. 370 pp. [Relevant text]

Skinner, H. D. (1964). Crocodile and Lizard in New Zealand Myth and Material Culture. Records of the Otago Museum, Anthropology 1: 1-43.

Towns, D. R. and Daugherty, Charles H. (1994). Patterns of range contractions and extinctions in the New Zealand herpetofauna following human colonisation. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 21(4): 325-339.

World Conservation Monitoring Centre. (1996). Hoplodactylus delcourti. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. ( Downloaded on 13 August 2012.

Worthy, Trevor H. (1998). Quaternary fossil faunas of Otago, South Island, New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 28(3): 421-521. [p. 449]

Worthy, Trevor H. (2016). A Review of the Fossil Record of New Zealand Lizards, pp. 65-86. In: Chapple, David (ed.). New Zealand Lizards. Springer. XVI + 375 pp. [Abstract]

Worthy, Trevor H. and Holdaway, Richard N. (2002). The Lost World of the Moa. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.


<< Back to the Sauria (Lizards) database