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Cnemaspis mundanthuraiensis KHANDEKAR, THACKERAY, & AGARWAL, 2022

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

Type locality: Mundanthurai forest range (8.6980°N, 77.3561°E; ca. 200 m asl.), Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu state, India  
ReproductionOviparous; 2-3 eggs per clutch (Khandekar et al. 2022) 
TypesHolotype: NRC-AA-1175 (AK-R 451), adult male, collected by Akshay Khandekar and team on 21 April 2021.
Paratypes: NRC-AA-1176 (AK-R 443), NRC-AA-1177 (AK-R 445), NRC-AA-1178 (AK-R 446), BNHS 2822 (AK-R 448), BNHS 2824 (AK-R 450), and BNHS 2825 (AK-R 452), adult males; BNHS 2823 (AK-R 449), adult female; NRC-AA-1179 (AK-R 447), subadult female; same collectors as holotype except collected on 22 April 2021. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A small-sized Cnemaspis, snout to vent length less than 33 mm (n=9). Dorsal pholidosis heterogeneous; weakly keeled, weakly conical, granular scales intermixed with irregularly arranged rows of enlarged, strongly keeled, conical tubercles which are gradually increasing in size towards flank; last two rows of enlarged tubercles on flank largest, spine-like; 6–8 rows of dorsal tubercles at mid-body, tubercles in paravertebral region irregular; ventral scales subcircular, smooth, subequal from chest to vent, 30–34 scales across belly at mid-body, 115–128 longitudinal scales from mental to cloaca; subdigital scansors smooth, unpaired, unnotched; 10 or 11 lamellae under digit I of manus and 9–12 lamellae under digit I of pes, 14–18 lamellae under digit IV of manus and 18–22 lamellae under digit IV of pes; males (n=7/9) with 3–5 femoral pores on each thigh separated by 9–11 poreless scales from two precloacal pores, precloacal pores separated medially by 2–4 poreless scales (n=4/7), precloacal pores sometimes absent entirely and femoral pores on each thigh separated by 23–25 poreless scales (n=3/7); tail with enlarged, strongly keeled, pointed, and spine-like tubercles forming whorls; six tubercles on first six whorl, five tubercles on seventh, and four on eighth whorl; rest of the tail with tubercles present only on the paravertebral rows; median row of subcaudals smooth, roughly pentagonal, and distinctly enlarged. Dorsum pale brown with numerous light blotches and red patches (more prominent in males); single small central black ocellus on occiput and larger one anterior to forelimb insertions; original tail with 8–10 alternating black and light grey bands; ventral surfaces off-white, dark streaks on posterior margin of throat and sternal region (males with underside of hindlimbs and margin of belly suffused with yellow). (KHANDEKAR et al. 2022)

Comparisons: Cnemaspis mundanthuraiensis sp. nov. is a member of the gracilis clade and can be easily distinguished from all five members of the clade by a combination of the following differing or non-overlapping characters: 6–8 rows of dorsal tubercles at mid-body (versus 9–11 rows of dorsal tubercles at mid-body in C. agarwali Khandekar, 2019; 11–14 in C. gracilis (Beddome, 1870) and C. thackerayi Khandekar, Gaitonde and Agarwal, 2019; 10–14 in C. shevaroyensis Khandekar, Gaitonde and Agarwal, 2019); only a few irregularly arranged tubercles in paravertebral region (versus 12–17 tubercles in paravertebral rows in C. agarwali; 9–12 in C. gracilis; 11–12 in C. jackieii; 13–17 in C. shevaroyensis; and 12–14 in C. thackerayi); spine-like tubercles present on flanks (versus spine-like tubercles absent on flanks in C. agarwali, C. jackieii, C. shevaroyensis, and C. thackerayi); 30–34 ventral scales across belly at mid-body (versus 24–26 ventral scales across belly at mid-body in C. agarwali, 23–25 in C. gracilis, 21–24 in C. shevaroyensis, and 22–25 in C. thackerayi). (KHANDEKAR et al. 2022)

Coloration: Dorsal ground colour of head, body, limbs and tail pale brown. Head with indistinct reddish markings and light grey blotches; anterior edge of brille yellow; upper labials dull white to yellow with dark blotches. Indistinct dark brown preorbital streak; three dark brown postorbital streaks, upper merging with light grey blotches on occiput, middle continuing until ear opening and lower to throat. Single central small black ocellus on occiput followed by a larger white marking and subsequently a larger dark central spot just anterior to forelimb insertions. About four light blotches on vertebral region between forelimbs and tail base, reddish patches and light spots scattered across dorsum; dorsum of forelimbs and hindlimbs with light blotches and bands, dark blotches speckled with yellow scales, digits with alternating dark and light yellow bands; dorsum of original tail with eight black and nine light grey bands. Ventral surfaces white except sternal region, edges of belly and underside of hindlimbs suffused with yellow; gular region with numerous streaks along the posterior edge; underside of tail white. Pupil black, iris golden. (KHANDEKAR et al. 2022) 
CommentNatural history: Cnemaspis mundanthuraiensis seems to be diurnal, rupicolous, and locally abundant. At all three collection sites, many individuals (n = >25) were observed active during the daytime (0900–1230 hrs) on rocks below 2 m height in moist deciduous forest patches. Individuals of the new species were observed inactive during the night, resting on rocks openly less than 1 meter from where holotype and two paratypes were collected. (KHANDEKAR et al. 2022) 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is a toponym for the Mundanthurai 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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