Wednesday, March 24, 2021

[Herpetology • 2021] Cnemaspis rajgadensisDwarfs of the fortress: A New Cryptic Species of Dwarf Gecko of the Genus Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Squamata, Gekkonidae) from Rajgad Fort in the northern Western Ghats of Maharashtra, India

Cnemaspis rajgadensis 
Sayyed, Cyriac, Pardeshi & Sulakhe, 2021

 Rajgad Dwarf Gecko || DOI: 10.3897/evolsyst.5.62929

A new species of the genus Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 is described from the Rajgad fort in the northern Western Ghats of Maharashtra, India. The new species, belonging to the flaviventralis clade, is one of the smallest known Indian Cnemaspis and can be distinguished from other congeners by its genetic distinctiveness and few key morphological characters. The new species can be diagnosed from all other Indian congeners by its small body size (SVL < 27 mm), the absence of conical and spine-like tubercles on flank; heterogeneous dorsal pholidosis; presence of only femoral pores and no precloacal pores in males; weakly keeled scales on the ventral surface of neck, pectoral, abdominal region and limbs; granular scales on the tail with whorls of slightly enlarged, strongly keeled tubercles; and the absence of enlarged median subcaudal scales. The new species is currently known to inhabit the man-made historical structures from a single locality in Rajgad, Maharashtra, where it is presumed to be uncommon.

Key Words: Cnemaspis rajgadensis sp. nov., taxonomy, dwarf gecko, cryptic species, reptiles, forts of Maharashtra

Figure 6. Cnemaspis rajgadensis sp. nov.
holotype, adult male, SVL 25.7 mm (BNHS 3100) in vivo habitus (A)
and female in vivo habitus (specimen not collected) (B) from type locality. 

Cnemaspis rajgadensis sp. nov.
Diagnosis: A small-sized Cnemaspis with adult SVL < 27 mm,; 7–7 supralabials; 6–7 infralabials; dorsal scales heterogeneous with small, granular, weakly keeled scales, intermixed with randomly arranged, weakly keeled, slightly larger tubercles; conical and spine-like tubercles absent on either side of the flanks but a row of enlarged tubercles present on the lower flanks; dorsal paravertebral scales 80–92; mid-dorsal scales 62–67; ventral surface of neck, pectoral, abdominal region, under limbs, and tail weakly keeled; mid-ventral scales 123–141; ventral scales across mid-body 28–29; subdigital lamellae under fourth digit of manus 15, under fourth digit of pes 18; males with 3 femoral pores and absence of precloacal pores; dorsal scales of tail granular, weakly keeled, roughly same in size and shape to those on mid-body dorsum, gradually becoming larger, flattened, blunt, sub-imbricate posteriorly, intermixed with whorls of slightly enlarged, strongly keeled tubercles; scales on ventral aspect of original tail imbricate, weakly keeled, without a series of enlarged sub-caudal scales, roughly same in size of those on dorsal tail; a single enlarged postcloacal spur on each side.

Figure 7. Habitat of Cnemaspis rajgadensis sp. nov. from the type locality at Rajgad fort, Pune, Maharashtra, India.

Etymology: The species epithet is derived from the Rajgad fort of Pune District, Maharashtra, India, from where the type series was collected. Rajgad is a hill fort and historical place, which was the capital of the Maratha Empire under the rule of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj for almost 26 years during the 17th century. Previously known as Murumdev, Rajgad fort is located around 60 km to the south-west of Pune and about 15 km west of Nasrapur village in the range of northern Western Ghats.

Suggested common name: Rajgad Dwarf Gecko

Distribution: Currently, Cnemaspis rajgadensis sp. nov., is known from only its type locality – Rajgad fort, Pune District, Maharashtra.

Figure 2. Morphospace occupied by members of the flaviventralis clade including Cnemaspis rajgadensis sp. nov. as obtained from the Principal Component Analysis (PCA) along with distribution of the species. A Plot of PC1 and PC2, B Plot of PC1 and PC3, C – Map showing the type localities of C. rajgadensis sp. nov., C. ajijae and C. flaviventralis from northern Western Ghats of India.

 Amit Sayyed, Vivek Philip Cyriac, Anish Pardeshi and Shauri Sulakhe. 2021. Dwarfs of the fortress: A New Cryptic Species of Dwarf Gecko of the Genus Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Squamata, Gekkonidae) from Rajgad Fort in the northern Western Ghats of Maharashtra, India. Evolutionary Systematics. 5(1): 25-38. DOI: 10.3897/evolsyst.5.62929