The ruins of Hampi, known for Vijayanagara Empire, are in news this time for a new species of day-gecko lizard by a team of researchers from Osmania University, Hyderabad and has been named Cnemaspis adii, after a volunteer Aditya Srinivasulu.
Usually habitable in the Western Ghats of India, the new species was found for the first time in the genus was reported in Karnataka, southern India. Incidentally, this is the second species discovered by OU Zoologists and accepted this month.[ALSO SEE: OU Researchers Find New Species of Venomous ‘Crab Spider’, Name it After Telangana]
The new species of rupicolous gecko of the genus Cnemaspis is diagnosable from all the Indian congeners with characters such as medium-sized Cnemaspis, SVL less than 35 mm (31.7mm to 34.9mm). Dorsal scales on the trunk homogeneous, small, granular and feebly keeled.
Other features include absence of spine-like tubercles on the flanks, mental subtraingular, two pairs of postmentals, primary pair separated by a single chin shield, ventral scales on the trunk smooth, imbricate; 22–26 scales across the belly. Its supralabial I is narrowly in contact with nasal and dorsal aspect of forelimbs and hindlimbs are weakly unicarinate. Lamellae under the digit IV of pes 20–22 in this species. Males with two precloacal pores, two femoral pores on each side of the thigh are vividly visible.
“The existence of the species in a World Heritage Site with continuous anthropogenic interference ascertains the robustness of the species and need for additional herpetofaunal explorations to reveal the total diversity of species of the genus Cnemaspis in peninsular India,” said researchers in their paper published in Zootaxa.
Hampi, located on Tungabhadra river is known for its rich biodiversity but rarely given the attention for its biodiversity for smaller vertebrate and invertebrates. The new lizard species, named after a student Aditya Srinivasulu, as Cnemaspis Adii, belongs to the family of day geckos, with their unique round pupils unlike regular geckos which have vertical pupils.
The Old World gecko genus Cnemaspis Strauch is one of the most speciose paleotropical gekkonid genera, comprising more than 100 species in tropical Africa, South Asia and South-east Asia. Most geckos of the genus Cnemaspis are cryptically-coloured, microhabitat specialists, mainly showing diurnal behaviour, characterized by a diminutive, slender body, large forward- and upwardly- directed eyes with rounded pupils, and slender digits which are elongated, bent at an angle with the entire subdigital lamellae.
This discovery was made in 2012 by the student team of Wildlife Biology and Taxonomy Lab, Department of Zoology, Osmania University while surveying bats in the Hampi complex. They were found on boulders and temple walls among the ruins of Hampi and after careful screening and comparison, researchers realized that they had indeed, discovered a new species unlisted so far leading to its naming after one of the student whose interest in herpetology led to the entire process.