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New gecko species named in honor of Sri Lankan herpetologist Anslem de Silva

13 / 09 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

COLOMBO — For nearly five decades he’s helped introduce stunning new species of reptiles and amphibians found only in Sri Lanka to the rest of the world. He’s also inspired a new generation of scientists eager to showcase and conserve their country’s natural wealth. Now, legendary herpetologist Anslem de Silva — “the father of modern herpetology in Sri Lanka” — is being honored with a new species of gecko named after him. Cnemaspis anslemi is a diminutive species of day gecko, a genus that’s typically active in the daytime, found only in the lush green canopied region of Udamaliboda, in the northwestern foothills of Samanalawewa Nature Reserve. The new species is described in a paper in the journal Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, and brings the number of Cnemaspis geckos in Sri Lanka to 33 — all of them found only on the island. In fact, Sri Lanka is home to a fifth of all known Cnemaspis species worldwide. Lead researcher Sameera Suranjan Karunarathna told Mongabay that it was a privilege to name the new gecko after de Silva, who he said had contributed immensely in shining a light on Sri Lanka’s rich biodiversity and inspired a new generation of herpetologists including himself and co-author Kanishka Ukuwela. “There is so much to celebrate in him [de Silva] and we felt as the country felicitated him at a recent event, naming this species, discovered not too far from his own home, in his honor would be just right. It is our way…

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