A new species of Meghalaya lizard named after the Indian army

A new species of Meghalaya Gecko has been recorded from Umroi military station in Ri-Bhoi district of the state by a group of researchers. The new discovery is scientifically named Cyrtodactylus exercitus. Exercitus in Latin means army. The name was coined to honor the Indian Army for their service and dedication.

Locally, the Gecko will be referred to as the Indian Army Curved-Toed Gecko. The genus Cyrtodactylus is represented by about 320 species worldwide and is the third most common genus of vertebrates in the world. Members of the genus range from South Asia to Melanesia with great diversity in South Asia. Northeast India is now home to 16 species of bent-toed gecko.

As part of the ongoing research to uncover the herpetofaunal diversity of northeast India, a team of researchers – Jayaditya Purkayastha and Sanath Chandra Bohra from Help Earth, Yashpal Singh Rathee from Umroi Army Station, Hmar Tlawmte Lalremsanga, Vabeiryureilai Mathipi, Lal Biakzuala and Lal Muansanga from Department of Zoology, Mizoram University and Beirathie Litho from RMSA Lobo school discovered two new species of bent-toed gecko, one from Meghalaya and one from Mizoram. The results of the study are published in the European Journal of Taxonomy. The new species from Mizoram has the scientific name Cyrtodactylus siahaensis and the English name Siaha bent-toed gecko. The species was named after Siaha.

“One of the best ways to serve my country is to protect it and its citizens. The greatest fear that haunts us is our death and an army embraces death for our well-being. As long as I live, I will be indebted to my country’s armed forces and it is my tiny contribution to the forces that make us sleep peacefully with the belief that our nation is in safe hands,” said Dr. Jayaditya Purkayastha, Secretary General, Help the Earth.

“We describe two new species of Cyrtodactylus Gray, 1827, each from the Indian states of Meghalaya and Mizoram based on morphology and ND2 gene sequences. The new species are part of the Cyrtodactylus khasiensis group. Both species represent the highland clade in the southern Brahmaputra clade of Indo-Burmese Cyrtodactylus.

Based on the ND2 gene sequence, Meghalaya species have an uncorrected p-distance of 4.21% to 4.25% of a lowland species C. Guwahatiensis Agarwal, Mahony, Giri, Chaitanya & Bauer, 2018 and is a sister taxon to C. septentrionalis Agarwal, Mahony, Giri, Chaitanya & Bauer, 2018. Mizoram species differ from its sister species C. bengkhuaiai Purkayastha, Lalremsanga, Bohra, Biakzuala, Decemson, Muansanga, Vabeiryureilai, Chauhan & Rathee , 2021 by a p-distance of 8.33%”, mentions European Journal of Taxonomy.

In 2019, researchers discovered six new species of bent-toed geckos, a type of small lizard, from the northeast and one of them is from Guwahati.

While researchers found the Guwahati bent-toed gecko (Cyrtodactylus guwahatiensis, named after the city) near a small hillock in the urban sprawl of Guwahati city, the Kaziranga bent-toed gecko, the gecko Jaintia bent-toed gecko and the Nagaland bent-toed gecko. were discovered in Kaziranga National Park in Assam, Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya and Khonoma Village in Nagaland, respectively.

The Abhayapuri bent-toed gecko is currently only found near the town of Abhayapuri in the Bongaigaon district of Assam, and the Jampui bent-toed gecko only in the Jampui hills of Tripura. All of the new lizards belong to the genus Cyrtodactylus and are called bent-toed or arctoed geckos, named after their curved toes.

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