Hemidactylus acanthopholis was discovered not in the forests of India's Western Ghats, but in London's Natural History Museum.
Herpetologists with India’s Bengaluru National Centre for Biological Sciences and Centre for Ecological Studies have discovered yet another lizard of the family Gekkonidae, not in the fields and mountains of India, but in a collection at the National History Museum in London.
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Last year Indian herpetologists Zeeshan Mirza and Rajesh Sanap were researching other lizard species when they discovered the new species, named Hemidactylus acanthopholis, amongst the collection. Upon comparing the new species with other known species at that museum as well as the Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai; Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, it was determined that they indeed have discovered a new species.
Mizra and Sanap then submitted their paper detailing the new species in Taprobanica: The Journal of Asian Biodiversity, which published the report this week.
“The newly discovered gecko species belongs to the Hemidactylus maculatus species complex which are large rock dwelling species mostly found on large boulders, caves and forts and are said to be spread across the Western Ghats,” Mirza told mid-day India. Present research hints that more new species await scientific discovery in India.
Hemidactylus acanthopholis got its name due to the warty outgrowths on its back. It grows to 20-23cm in length and is brown with dark bands on its back. It can be found in rocky regions of Kallidaikurichi, Banatheertham, Courtallam and the eastern dry zone of Kalakkad Mundanthirai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu.
The duo believe that the recent discoveries are just the tip of the iceberg in what can be found in India. “India is rich in its reptilian diversity but the majority of it still remains undocumented and hence extensive countrywide surveys must be undertaken,” Sanap said.
John B. Virata keeps a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata