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A new gecko emerges from Sri Lanka’s Nilgala savanna forest

23 / 05 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

The discovery of a new species of gecko in Sri Lanka has highlighted the island’s rich biodiversity as well as the perilous state of its unique and shrinking habitats. The Nilgala day gecko (Cnemaspis nilgala) is named after the Nilgala savanna forest in Uva province where it’s found. It was described in a paper published in January in the journal Zootaxa, in which it’s identified as genetically distinct from another species, the Alwis’s day gecko (C. alwisi), for which it was previously confused. The newly discovered geckos are diminutive, slender-bodied, and possess prominent forward and upward-directed eyes. Their coloration varies from light gray to brown, peppered with small black and white spots that provide them with efficient camouflage. Cnemaspis nilgala male paratype: (a) dorsolateral view of the full body; (b) dorsal view of the full body; (c) cloacal characters; (d) dorsal head; (e) lateral head; (f) ventral head; (g) smooth ventral area of the body and (h) subdigital lamellae on pes. Images courtesy Madhava Botejue. The discovery means Sri Lanka is home to 24 known species of Cnemaspis day geckos, so named because, unlike many other types of geckos, they’re active during the daytime. While the more than 140 species in Cnemaspis are geographically widespread, ranging from Africa to the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia, the two dozen found in Sri Lanka occur nowhere else. “It is important to identify Sri Lanka not just as a biodiversity hotspot, in particular for lizards, but also for the much smaller geckos,” says…

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