Indian researchers discover new gecko species in Arunachal Pradesh | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Indian researchers discover new gecko species in Arunachal Pradesh

ByPriyanka Sahoo, Mumbai
Jan 30, 2021 11:41 PM IST

A team of researchers from five institutes across India have discovered a new gecko species in Arunachal Pradesh

A team of researchers from five institutes across India have discovered a new gecko species in Arunachal Pradesh. Their discovery was published in the international peer-reviewed journal Evolutionary Systematics on Thursday.

The new species belongs to the genus Cyrtodactylus commonly known as bent-toed geckos. (Zeeshan Mirza)
The new species belongs to the genus Cyrtodactylus commonly known as bent-toed geckos. (Zeeshan Mirza)

The new species, which belongs to the genus Cyrtodactylus commonly known as bent-toed geckos, was discovered by Zeeshan Mirza of the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bengaluru, Harshal Bhosale and Mandar Sawant of the Bombay Natural History Society in Mumbai, Faizan Ansari of the Madras Crocodile Bank in Chennai, Gaurang Gowande of Ferguson College in Pune, Pushkar Phansalkar from Pune, and Harshil Patel of the Veer Narmad South Gujarat University in Surat.

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The researchers have named the species Cyrtodactylus arunachalensis after the state in which it was discovered.

“The finding of this lizard species is important because it proves that the state of Arunachal Pradesh is rich in biodiversity which is yet to be documented. With many development projects lined up in the state, some of these species may be wiped out even before they are discovered,” said Mirza.

The team found the gecko on a month-and-a-half-long expedition across Arunachal Pradesh during late June to early August 2019 in an attempt to study undocumented biodiversity in the state with the help of DNA data.

The gecko is the fourth new reptile species to be discovered by the team during the trip. The other three species that have been discovered were snakes, one of which was a pit viper species — Trimeresurus Salazar which was named after the character Salazar Slytherin from the Harry Potter series.

“These geckos are strictly nocturnal and are found usually around rocky areas or under culverts. Most members of this group look quite similar and hence a close look is necessary to separate the species. In many cases, comparison of DNA sequences is necessary to confirm identification,” said the researchers in a statement.

“When it comes to lesser invertebrates and insects, only about 50% species have been documented. However, with newer techniques and concerted efforts by more people, these species that have existed for long are coming to be known to science,” said Varad Giri, veteran herpetologist, who was not a part of the research team.

The research team has, since then, been working on comparing the morphology and DNA of the gecko species with related species.

“We are currently working on the other specimens collected during our trip. We are sure that there are many more species to be discovered,” Mirza added.

Since the team had visited Arunachal during the monsoons the last time, members plan to visit again during a different season for a fresh survey.

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