Scientists have discovered a new species of leopard gecko (genus Eublepharis) living in the forests of the Indian states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
Eublepharis is a small genus in the lizard family Eublepharidae, which contains 44 species in six genera distributed in parts of North and Central America, West and East Africa, Middle East, South Asia and the Malayan Archipelago.
First described in 1827, the genus is currently represented by seven species of which five are known from India.
The newly-discovered species, Eublepharis pictus, occurs in the Indian states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
It measures 11.7 cm (4.6 inches) in length and prefers dry evergreen forests mixed with scrub and meadows.
“Eublepharis pictus is strictly nocturnal and has been observed actively foraging along trails in the forest after dusk,” said Zeeshan Mirza from the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore and Chandrashekaruni Gnaneswar of the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust.
“While foraging, the species has been observed licking surfaces as it moves, likely the tongue is used as a sensory organ.”
According to the researchers, Eublepharis pictus occurs outside protected areas.
“Most leopard geckos are killed when encountered and awareness about the species being harmless would be beneficial for the species,” they said.
“Based on IUCN conservation prioritization criteria we propose to list Eublepharis pictus and Eublepharis hardwickii as Near Threatened pending further information on local population estimates, especially in protected areas.”
“The species is collected for the pet trade and even now may be smuggled illegally. Its listing as Near Threatened may contribute in minimizing the illegal trade.”
A paper describing the discovery was published in the journal Evolutionary Systematics.
Z.A. Mirza & C. Gnaneswar. 2022. Description of a new species of leopard geckos, Eublepharis Gray, 1827 from Eastern Ghats, India with notes on Eublepharis hardwickii Gray, 1827. Evolutionary Systematics 6 (1): 77-88; doi: 10.3897/evolsyst.6.83290
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