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Cnemaspis kalakadensis KHANDEKAR, THACKERAY, & AGARWAL, 2022

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common Names 
SynonymCnemaspis kalakadensis KHANDEKAR, THACKERAY, & AGARWAL 2022 
DistributionIndia (Tamil Nadu)

Type locality: Near Sengaltheri forest guesthouse, Kalakad forest range (8.5340°N, 77.4502°E; ca. 960 m asl.), Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu state, India  
TypesHolotype: NRC-AA-1180 (AK-R 648), adult male, collected by Akshay Khandekar, and team on 30 April 2021.
Paratypes: NRC-AA-1182 (AK-R 644), BNHS 2826 (AK-R 646), adult males; NRC-AA-1181 (AK-R 643), NRC-AA-1183 (AK-R 645), BNHS 2827 (AK-R 647), BNHS 2828 (AK-R 654), adult females; collectors and date same as holotype. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A small-sized Cnemaspis, snout to vent length less than 33 mm (n=7). Dorsal pholidosis heterogeneous; smooth, subcircular, weakly conical granular scales intermixed with irregularly arranged rows of enlarged, smooth, laterally compressed, spine-like scales on flanks; four or five rows of dorsal tubercles at midbody, enlarged scales or tubercles absent in paravertebral region; ventral scales subcircular, smooth, subimbricate, subequal from chest to vent; 28–34 scales across belly at mid-body, 122–134 longitudinal scales from mental to cloaca; subdigital scansors smooth, unpaired, unnotched; basal scansors distinctly enlarged, plate like; 11 or 12 lamellae under digit I of manus and pes, 16–19 lamellae under digit IV of manus and 19–22 lamellae under digit IV of pes; males (n=3/7) with a series of 12–14 femoral pores on each thigh separated medially by 10 or 11 poreless scales; tail dorsum with enlarged, smooth, flattened scales only in the paravertebral rows, not forming whorls; 16–18 scales in paravertebral rows on either side, only 2–4 enlarged scales in the lateral row on either side; median row of subcaudals smooth, roughly subcircular, and distinctly enlarged. Dorsum grey-brown with indistinct dark bands; single longitudinally placed hourglass shaped black marking anterior to forelimb insertions; tail with ~12 alternating dark and pale bands; underside of body, limbs and tail in males pale yellow with precloacal and femoral region off-white, gular region bright yellow; ventral surfaces in females off-white to cream. (KHANDEKAR et al. 2022)

Comparisons: Cnemaspis kalakadensis sp. nov. is a member of the littoralis clade and can be easily distinguished from all four members of the clade by combination of following differing or non-overlapping characters: four or five rows of dorsal tubercles at mid-body restricted to flanks, laterally compressed, spine-like (versus few scattered tubercles on the flank, reduced, subconical in C. flavigularis; a few scattered tubercles on flanks, spine-like tubercles only in the lowermost row on flanks in C. littoralis; conical or spine-like tubercles absent on flanks in C. palakkadensis; a few scattered spinose tubercles on the flanks in C.
palanica Pal, Mirza, Dsouza and Shanker, 2021); 28–34 scales across belly at mid-body (versus 21–23 scales across belly at mid-body in C. flavigularis, and 16–18 in C. palanica); 122–134 longitudinal scales from mental to cloaca (versus 104–108 longitudinal scales from mental to cloaca in C. flavigularis, 143–157 in C. littoralis, and 103–106 in C. palanica); 19–22 lamellae under digit IV of pes (versus 16–18 lamellae under digit IV of pes in C. flavigularis, 16–18 in C. littoralis, 14–17 in C. palakkadensis, and 17 or 18 in C. palanica); males with a series 12–14 femoral pores on each thigh separated medially by 10 or 11 poreless scales (versus males with a series of 15–18 femoral pores separated by 14–16 poreless scales in C. littoralis, and 15 or 16 femoral pores separated by at least 15 poreless scales in C. palakkadensis). (KHANDEKAR et al. 2022)

Dorsal ground colour of head, body, limbs and tail pale grey-brown; finely speckled with darker markings. Anterior edge of brille and snout tip faintly suffused with yellow; labials dull white to yellow, finely speckled with dark markings, dark markings prominent on outer margins. Indistinct dark brown preorbital streak runs from nostril to orbit, postorbital streaks indistinct. A single longitudinally placed, hourglass-shaped black marking anterior to forelimb insertions, flanked by a poorly defined lighter blotch anteriorly and posteriorly. About four poorly defined dark bands between axilla and tail base of which the first is most prominent, narrowest in vertebral region and flaring out on flanks, alternating with lighter, elongate mid-dorsal blotches; dorsum of forelimbs, hindlimbs and digits mottled with small dark blotches and bands; dorsum of original tail with about 12 alternating dark and pale bands. Underside of body, limbs and tail pale yellow with a few scattered grey scales, only precloacal and femoral region off-white; gular region almost entirely covered by a bright yellow patch mottled with a few black scales and very few larger grey blotches. Pupil black, iris greyish. (KHANDEKAR et al. 2022) 
CommentNatural history: Individuals were seen active during the daytime (1030–1600 hrs) on tree trunks (2–5 m above the ground) inside wet evergreen forest patches. Cnemaspis kalakadensis appears to be a tree specialist as they were only observed on tree trunks, some individuals were seen effortlessly climbing above approximately 4 m on trees when disturbed. They were observed to be fairly common (n = >15) at all three collection sites indicating good abundance. The new species were recorded in good numbers only at places with high canopy cover and were seen only during the daytime. (KHANDEKAR et al. 2022) 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is a toponym for the Kalakad forest range of Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, the type and currently only known locality for this species. 
  • Khandekar, A., Thackeray, T., & Agarwal, I. 2022. Three more novel species of South Asian Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Squamata, Gekkonidae) from Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, India. Vertebrate Zoology, 72, 385-422 - get paper here
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