Renowned wildlife researcher and herpetologist Varad Giri, herpetologist R Chaitanya and their team have discovered six new species of geckos in the Western Ghats. A scientific paper regarding the same was published in the renowned international taxonomic journal, Zootaxa recently.
The Western Ghats are home to a remarkable diversity in floral and faunal groups that exhibit a high degree of endemism in this biodiversity hotspot. Dr Giri said, "The only endemic gecko genus in the Western Ghats is the Dravidogecko. They are distributed from Wayanad district in the north up to Tirunelveli district in the south. Until recently, only one species (Dravidogecko Anamallensis that was described in 1875 by zoologist Albert Günther) was recognised under this genus perceived to be widespread across the Western Ghats."
"Fieldwork and sampling across the Western Ghats revealed that there were not one but at least six new species hiding in plain sight under the name Dravidogecko Anamallensis!" Giri added.
The team behind the study was led by Bengaluru-based herpetologist Chaitanya in collaboration with Dr Giri, Director, Foundation for Biodiversity Conservation; Dr. Deepak Veerappan, Natural History Museum, London; Dr Aniruddha Datta-Roy, National Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhubaneshwar; Dr BHCK Murthy, Zoological Survey of India, Kozhikode (ZSIK) and Dr Praveen Karanth from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (IISc). The six new species have been named Dravidogecko septentrionalis, D. janakiae (in honour of Dr Janaki Ammal, botanist from Kerala), D. tholpalli, D. meghamalaiensis, D. douglasadamsi (in honour of British author Douglas Noel Adams) and D. smithi (in honour of British herpetologist Malcolm Arthur Smith).
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