Saturday, February 9, 2019

[Herpetology • 2019] Six New Species of the Cyrtodactylus intermedius complex (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Cardamom Mountains and Associated Highlands of Southeast Asia

Cyrtodactylus laangensis 
Murdoch, Grismer, Wood, Neang, Poyarkov, Ngo, Nazarov, Aowphol, Pauwels, Nguyen & Grismer, 2019

An integrative taxonomic analysis using color pattern, morphology, and 1449 base pairs of the ND2 mitochondrial gene and its five flanking tRNAs demonstrated that eight species-level lineages occur within the Cyrtodactylus intermedius complex (Cyrtodactylus intermedius sensu stricto, C. phuquocensis and related populations) of the Cardamom mountains and associated highlands that have a sequence divergence ranging 3.4–8.9%. Additionally, each lineage is discretely diagnosable from one another based on morphology and color pattern and most occur in specific geographic regions (upland areas, karst formations or islands) that prevent or greatly restrict interpopulation gene flow. Six of these lineages were masquerading under the nomen C. intermedius and are described as the following: Cyrtodactylus auralensis sp. nov. endemic to Phnom Aural, the highest mountain in Cambodia; C. bokorensis sp. nov. endemic to the Bokor Plateau, Cambodia; C. cardamomensis sp. nov. from the main block of the Cardamom mountains; C. thylacodactylus sp. nov. endemic to Phnom Dalai the northernmost peak of the Cardamom mountains; C. laangensis sp. nov. endemic to the Phnom Laang karst formation, Cambodia; and C. septimontium sp. nov. from the Bảy Núi Hills of southwest Vietnam.

Keywords: Reptilia, Cyrtodactylus, systematics, taxonomy, new species, Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam

Cyrtodactylus intermedius from Thailand.
Photo by PJ Wood

Cyrtodactylus septimontium from Bay Nui Seven Mountains.

Matthew L. Murdoch, L. Lee Grismer, Perry L. Jr. Wood, Thy Neang, Nikolay A. Poyarkov, Ngo Van Tri, Roman A. Nazarov, Anchalee Aowphol, Olivier S.G. Pauwels, Hung Ngoc Nguyen and Jesse L. Grismer. 2019. Six New Species of the Cyrtodactylus intermedius complex (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Cardamom Mountains and associated Highlands of Southeast Asia. Zootaxa.  4554(1); 1–62.  DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4554.1.1

 So six of these lineages are described in this paper and at least two others still have to be described. I have to tell that my contribution to this project was quite limited and was all about the taxonomic status of lineages found in southern Vietnam. The population from Phu Quoc was already described as a new species C. phuquocensis some time ago, so Hùng Nguyễn, Roman Nazarov and I focused on Cyrtodactylus "intermedius" occuring in mainland southern Vietnam. There is a group of small granite hills in An Giang Province of Vietnam, close to Cambodian border, and that's where the geckos live. In Vietnamese these hills are called "Bay Nui" what means "Seven Mountains", so we decided to name the new species from there "Cyrtodactylus septimontium". "Septimontium" is and adjective to "Seven Mountains" in Latin, actually historically this word reffers to the ancient Roman holiday Septimontium, the gods of Seven Hills on which Rome was build were worshiped that day...
Other new species were collected from Cambodia mostly by Neang Thy and Prof. Lee Grismer and most of them got georgaphic names from the parts of the Cardamoms where they occur - Cyrtodactylus auralensis for Phnom Aural, Cyrtodactylus bokorensis for Phnom Bokor, Cyrtodactylus cardamomensis - for the main part of Cardamom Mountains, where this species has the widest distribition compared to other members of species complex. Cyrtodactylus laangensis from Phnom Laang is quite specific since it is a karst-dwelling form and is morphologically very different from other forest-dwelling species. And finally - one new species from Phnom Dalai was named for it's amazing morphology! Cyrtodactylus thylacodactylus has very weird structures on limbs - they have deep skin pockets between fingers and toes (I guess for hiding there some glands? I wonder how their feet smell...), and they are huge! So we decided to call it "thylacodactylus" from Greek "thylakos" for "pocket" and "dactylon" - "digit". I think this name is pretty cool, reminds me of Thylacinus, Thylakoleo and other exctinct marsupials!