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Cnemaspis thackerayi KHANDEKAR, GAITONDE & AGARWAL, 2019

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesThackeray’s dwarf gecko 
SynonymCnemaspis thackerayi KHANDEKAR, GAITONDE & AGARWAL 2019: 78 
DistributionIndia (Tamil Nadu)

Type locality: near Grange resort, Yercaud town, in the Shevaroys (11.775° N 78.219° E; ca. 1388 m asl.), Salem district, Tamil Nadu state, India  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. NCBS BH670, adult male, collected by A. Khandekar and T. Thackeray on 12 September 2018.
Paratypes. NCBS-BH671, BNHS 2527, adult males, NCBS-BH672, NCBS-BH673, BNHS 2526, BNHS 2528, adult females, same data as holotype except collected by A. Khandekar, I. Agarwal and N. Gaitonde on 18 September 2018. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis and comparison with Indian congeners: A medium-sized Cnemaspis, snout to vent length less than 41 mm. Dorsal pholidosis heterogeneous, weakly keeled, granular scales intermixed with large, strongly keeled, conical tubercles, 11–14 rows of dorsal tubercles, 12–14 tubercles in paravertebral rows; spine-like scales absent on flank. Ventral scales smooth, subimbricate, 22–25 scales across belly, 105–122 longitudinal scales from mental to cloaca. Subdigital scansors smooth, entire, unnotched; lamellae under digit IV of pes 21–24. Males with 5–9 femoral pores on each thigh, separated on either side by 1–6 poreless scales from five or six precloacal pores; precloacal pores separated medially by one or two poreless scales. Tail with enlarged, strongly keeled, conical tubercles forming whorls; a median row of subcaudals smooth, enlarged. Dorsum with 4–6 light grey vertebral blotches forms an indistinct vertebral stripe extending from neck to tail base; a single dorsal ocellus between forelimb insertions, throat off-white with black speckles; original tail in males with 8–9 alternating black and whitish-grey bands, regenerated tail brown.
Cnemaspis thackerayi sp. nov. can be distinguished from all other Indian congeners on the basis of the following differing or non-overlapping characters: spine-like scales absent on flank (versus spine-like scales present on flank in C. amboliensis, C. assamensis, C. flaviventralis, C. goaensis, C. jerdonii, C. littoralis, C. monticola and C. nilagirica); scales on dorsal aspect of trunk heterogeneous (versus scales on dorsal aspect of trunk homogeneous in C. adii, C. assamensis, C. australis, C. boiei, C. indica, C. jerdonii, C. kolhapurensis, C. littoralis, C. nilagirica and C. sisparensis); tail with median row of sub-caudal scales smooth and enlarged (versus median row of sub-caudal scales smooth and not enlarged in C. ajijae, C. flaviventralis, C. girii, C. limayei; C. monticola, C. australis with keeled sub-caudals); absence of keeled scales on the venter or gular regions (versus keeled scales on the venter or gular region in C. beddomei and C. goaensis); males with 5–9 femoral pores on each thigh, separated on either side by 1–6 poreless scales from five or six precloacal pores; precloacal pores separated medially by one or two poreless scales (versus precloacal pores absent, femoral pores present in C. ajijae, C. anaikattiensis, C. flaviventralis, C. girii, C. indica, C. jerdonii, C. kottiyoorensis, C. limayei, C. littoralis, C. mahabali, C. sisparensis, C. heteropholis, C. wynadensis; only precloacal pores present in C. anamudiensis, C. beddomei, C. maculicollis, C. nairi, C. ornata; both femoral and precloacal pores absent in C. boiei, C. assamensis; three femoral and four precloacal pores present in C. otai; two femoral and two precloacal pores on each thigh in C. adii; four or five femoral and three precloacal pores in C. australis; 2–4 femoral and three precloacal pores in C. goaensis; 3–5 femoral pores on each thigh, separated on either side by 7–10 poreless scales from two precloacal pores; precloacal pores separated medially by two or three poreless scales in C. gracilis; 4– 6 femoral pores on each thigh, separated on either side by eight poreless scales from four precloacal pores; precloacal pores separated medially by a single poreless scale in C. agarwali; two femoral and two precloacal pores in C. mysoriensis; three femoral and two precloacal pores in C. yercaudensis; a continuous series of 26–28 precloacal femoral pores in C. kolhapurensis).
C. thackerayi sp. nov. closely resembles C. gracilis and C. agarwali. However, it can be distinguished from both species by the presence of 5–9 femoral pores on each thigh and five or six precloacal pores separated by one or two poreless scales (versus 3–5 femoral pores on each thigh and two precloacal pores separated medially by two or three poreless scales in C. gracilis; 4–6 femoral pores on each thigh and four precloacal pores separated medially by a single poreless scale in C. agarwali); 1–6 poreless scales between femoral and precloacal pores (versus eight poreless scales between femoral and precloacal pores in C. agarwali); maximum SVL 41 mm (versus maximum SVL 34 mm in C. gracilis; 33 mm in C. agarwali); presence of a single dorsal ocellus between forelimb insertions (versus presence of two single dorsal ocellus on occiput and between forelimb insertions in C. gracilis; presence of two single dorsal ocellus on occiput and between forelimb insertions, two pairs on either side just anterior and posterior to forelimb insertions in C. agarwali). Additionally, C. thackerayi sp. nov. is 12.9% divergent in ND2 sequence from C. gracilis, 16.6 % divergent from C. cf. gracilis and 13.3% divergent from C. agarwali (Table 2). Diagnosis against Cnemaspis shevaroyensis sp. nov. is provided after its description. 
CommentSympatry: Hemidactylus frenatus, Hemidactylus parvimaculatus, Hemiphyllodactylus aurantiacus, Cnemaspis yercaudensis, Eutropis carinata, Eutropis macularia, and Lygosoma albopunctata.

Behavior: crepuscular or nocturnal as Khandekar et al. did not encounter individuals at the site during daytime (0900–1400h), and they observed juveniles and sub-adults emerging from refugees at around sunset (1800h). After complete darkness (2000h), they encountered many active adults on the walls both inside and outside the abandoned houses. They seemed to avoid light as we did not encounter this species in inhabited buildings near the abandoned house which had electric lighting. Individuals were found in high density with as many as 10–15 individuals in a single small room (approximately 2.5 x 3 m). This species may be specialised to high elevations as captured individuals became lethargic and sluggish and one individual died when moved to lower elevations (~700 to 1100 m asl.). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is a patronym in recognition of the contributions to natural history and systematic zoology of Mr. Tejas Thackeray, who also collected the holotype of this species. 
References
  • KHANDEKAR, AKSHAY; NIKHIL GAITONDE, ISHAN AGARWAL 2019. Two new Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Shevaroy massif, Tamil Nadu, India, with a preliminary ND2 phylogeny of Indian Cnemaspis. Zootaxa 4609 (1): 68-100 - get paper here
 
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