New colorful species of gecko discovered in India
Scientists have discovered a new species of leopard gecko (genus Eublepharis) living in the forests of the Indian states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
Eublepharis is a small genus of the lizard family Eublepharidaewhich contains 44 species in six genera distributed in parts of North and Central America, West and East Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and the Archipelago Malay.
First described in 1827, the genus is currently represented by seven species, five of which are known from India.
Newly discovered species Eublepharis pictusoccurs in the Indian states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
It measures 11.7 cm (4.6 inches) in length and prefers dry evergreen forests mixed with scrub and grassland.
“Eublepharis pictus is strictly nocturnal and has been observed actively foraging along forest paths after dusk,” said Zeeshan Mirza of the Bangalore National Center for Biological Sciences and Chandrashekaruni Gnaneswar of the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust.
“While foraging, the species has been observed licking surfaces as it moves, likely the tongue is used as a sensory organ.”
According to the researchers, Eublepharis pictus occurs outside protected areas.
“Most leopard geckos are killed when encountered and awareness that the species is harmless would benefit the species,” they said.
“Based on IUCN Conservation Prioritization Criteria we propose to list Eublepharis pictus and Eublepharis hardwickii as Near Threatened pending further information on local population estimates, particularly in protected areas.
“The species is collected for the pet trade and can still be smuggled illegally. Its listing as Near Threatened can help reduce illegal trade.
A paper describing the discovery was published in the journal Scalable systematics.
ZA Mirza & C. Gnaneswar. 2022. Description of a new species of leopard gecko, Eublepharis Gray, 1827 from Eastern Ghats, India with notes on Eublepharis hardwickii Grey, 1827. Scalable systematics 6(1): 77-88; doi: 10.3897/evolsyst.6.83290