|Cyrtodactylus (Geckoella) irulaorum|
Cyrtodactylus (Geckoella) relictus
Agarwal, Thackeray & Khandekar, 2023
We describe two new spotted species of ground-dwelling gecko of the genus Cyrtodactylus (Geckoella) from southeastern India in an integrative taxonomic framework. The new species are recovered as sister taxa within the C. collegalensis species complex, with 13.0–16.7% uncorrected mitochondrial sequence divergence from the other eight members of the C. collegalensis complex and 10.4% from one another. The new species are morphologically diagnosed by a spotted dorsal pattern of four pairs of spots (occasionally fused into figure 8-shaped markings) from the banded species C. aravindi, C. speciosus, C. rishivalleyensis and C. yakhuna; and from the spotted species with three or fewer pairs of spots in C. collegalensis and C. srilekhae; and from C. chengodumalaensis by the absence of any enlarged dorsal scales and from C. varadgirii by the absence of a patch of enlarged roughly hexagonal scales on the canthus rostralis and beneath the angle of the lower jaw. The two new species can only be differentiated from each other based on slight differences in body size, relative body width and other statistically significant, size-corrected morphometric characters. These are among the first endemic lizards from Tropical Dry Evergreen habitats along the southeast coast of India.
Keywords: Cryptic species, endemic species, integrative taxonomy, mitochondrial DNA, southern India, taxonomy
Cyrtodactylus (Geckoella) irulaorum sp. nov.
Diagnosis: A small-sized Cyrtodactylus (Geckoella), snout to vent length up to 51 mm (n = 8); tail shorter than SVL. Dorsal pholidosis on trunk homogeneous; covered with smooth, subcircular, weakly conical granular scales; scales on occiput and nape slightly smaller and more rounded than those on body dorsum, scales on flank slightly larger than those on dorsum; ventral scales much larger than dorsal scales, smooth, somewhat elongate, subimbricate, subequal from chest to vent; femoral and precloacal pores absent; enlarged precloacal or femoral scales absent, no precloacal groove; four pairs of dark rounded spots from behind occiput to hindlimb insertions, spots occasionally fused along mid-vertebral line forming horizontal figure 8-shaped marking; post-occipital collar broken into a pair of spots.
Etymology: The specific epithet is a patronym in honour of the Irula tribe, an indigenous Dravidian group who are expert snake trackers and catchers. Romulus Whitaker, whose farm the type series was collected at, has worked closely with the Irulas for decades and helped them set up a venom extraction cooperative in 1978. The Irula Snake Catchers’ Industrial Cooperative Society is the largest contributor to antivenom production in India.
Suggested common name: Irula Geckoella.
|Cyrtodactylus (Geckoella) relictus sp. nov. in life: |
A holotype, NRC-AA-1274, B paratype, NRC-AA-1275, C paratype, NRC-AA-1276.
Photos by Ishan Agarwal.
Cyrtodactylus (Geckoella) relictus sp. nov.
Diagnosis: A small-sized Cyrtodactylus (Geckoella), snout to vent length up to 53 mm (n = 3); tail shorter than SVL. Dorsal pholidosis on trunk homogeneous; covered with smooth, subcircular, weakly conical granular scales; scales on occiput and nape slightly smaller and rounded than those on body dorsum, scales on flank slightly larger than those on dorsum; ventral scales much larger than scales on dorsum, smooth, subcircular, subimbricate, subequal from chest to vent; absence of femoral and precloacal pores; absence of enlarged precloacal or femoral scales, no precloacal groove; four pairs of dark rounded spots from occiput to hindlimb insertions, spots rarely just in contact along mid-vertebral line; post-occipital collar broken into a pair of spots (1/3) or forming a U-shaped band (2/3).
Etymology: The specific epithet is from the Latin relictus; which refers to an organism or species that has survived from an earlier period with different environmental conditions. Peninsular India was covered by wet forests and has gradually become more arid since at least the Miocene (Morley 2007; Patnaik et al. 2012; Pound et al. 2012). This is apt for the new species as it is known only from small areas of relatively cool, closed canopy habitats in a matrix of otherwise warm and open habitats.
Suggested common name: Relict Geckoella.
Ishan Agarwal, Tejas Thackeray and Akshay Khandekar. 2023. Two New Spotted Species of the Cyrtodactylus (Geckoella) collegalensis (Beddome, 1870) Complex from the South-eastern Coast of India (Reptilia: Squamata). Vertebrate Zoology. 73: 475-498. DOI: 10.3897/vz.73.e102602