6 new lizard species discovered in northeast India

Scientists have discovered six new species of bent-toed geckos from different parts. (Representative)

Mumbai:

Scientists have discovered six new species of bent-toed geckos (lizards) from different parts of northeast India, a team member said on Tuesday.

These bent-toed geckos in the genus Cyrtodactylus are the most species-rich genus of geckos in the world with more than 250 species, said team spokesperson Ishan Agarwal.

Descriptions of the six newly discovered species were published Monday in the peer-reviewed taxonomic mega-journal, Zootaxa, published in New Zealand, he added.

Team member Varad Giri said only six species of these geckos are known from the Himalayas and northeast India, but in recent months nine new species have been described, including four and 11 of these two regions respectively.

Neighboring Myanmar has also seen a huge increase with more than 20 new species discovered since 2017 and is the result of surveys of never-before-sampled areas in Indo-Burmese biodiversity hotspots.

The new Indian species has been named after Assam’s capital, Guwahati, as Cyrtodactylus Guwahatiensis, or the Guwahati bent-toed gecko, making it the fifth lizard to be described in a major Indian city. , the others being Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai.

Similarly, one is named after Nagaland as Cyrtodactylus Nagalandensis, another is named Cyrtodactylus Kazirangaensis after the famous Kaziranga National Park, and the largest bent-toed gecko is named Cyrtodactylus Jaintiaensis from the Jaintia hills of Meghalaya.

The other two are Cyrtodactylus Montanus after the Jampui hills of Tripura and another named Cyrtodactylus Septentrionalis from the curved-toed gecko of Abhayapuri, Mr Agarwal said.

Although all of these species are native to a single locality each, nothing is known of their natural history, ecology, and distribution other than that they are nocturnal, rock-dwelling creatures.

Mr Agarwal thinks it is likely to be a narrowly distributed endemic and that northeast India could have several dozen more bent-toed geckos.

The team included, in addition to Mr. Agarwal and Mr. Giri, R. Chaitanya, Stephen Mahony of the Natural History Museum in London and a world authority on geckos, Aaron Bauer of Villanova University, USA.

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