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Cnemaspis gunasekarai AMARASINGHE, KARUNARATHNA, MADAWALA & DE SILVA, 2021

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymCnemaspis gunasekarai AMARASINGHE, KARUNARATHNA, MADAWALA & DE SILVA 2021
Cnemaspis alwisi –– AGARWAL et al. 2017 
DistributionSri Lanka (North Central Province)

Type locality: Ritigala (8˚05'27.63''– 8˚09' 5.19''N, 80˚37'28.62''–80˚41'22.53''E, alt. 385 m a.s.l.), Anuradhapura District, North Central Province, Sri Lanka  
ReproductionOviparous (Amarasinghe et al. 2021). 
TypesHolotype: NMSL 2019.17.01, adult male, collected by Anslem de Silva, on 10 November 2005
Paratypes: NMSL 2019.17.02 and NMSL 2019.17.03, adult females, other details same as holotype 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: The following combination of characters distinguishes this new species from all other congeners: adult males reaching 34.6 mm SVL, adult females reaching 31.1 mm SVL; 9–11 supralabials; dorsal granules homogeneous, 117–126 paravertebral granules; four or five spine-like tubercles on flanks; throat, pectoral, and abdominal scales smooth; 119–127 ventrals; no precloacal pores and ten femoral pores (per thigh) in males, 16 interfemoral scales; 89–95 midbody scales, 20–22 ventral scale rows across belly; 19–21 subdigital lamellae on fourth toe; subcaudals smooth, subhexagonal shaped, median row of subcaudals greatly enlarged; the differences are summarized for geographically close congeners (Table 2) and for all Sri Lankan species in Karunarathna et al. (2019c, and their table 9). (Amarasinghe et al. 2021).

Comparisons: Cnemaspis gunasekarai sp. nov. is most similar to C. nilgala, C. hitihamii, and other congeners of the alwisi group. Its diagnostic characters within that group are listed in Table 2. The new species is distinct from its only sympatric Cnemaspis species, C. retigalensis Wickramasinghe & Munindradasa, 2007, by having homogeneous (heterogeneous) dorsal granules, enlarged subcaudals (not enlarged), no precloacal pores (present), ten femoral pores (3–4), gular scales smooth (keeled), 89–95 mid body scale rows (69–77), and 117–126 paravertebral granules (82–86).

The new species is distinguished from C. kandambyi Batuwita & Udugampala, 2017; C. molligodai Wickramasinghe & Munindradasa, 2007; C. podihuna Deraniyagala, 1944, and C. manoae Amarasinghe & Karunarathna, 2020 by having no precloacal pores in males (present), 20–22 ventral scales across belly (15–19), 89–95 mid body scale rows (71–83), ten femoral pores in males (5–9), 119–127 ventrals (128–137 in C. kandambyi and C. molligodai), 117–126 paravertebral granules (less than 106 in C. kandambyi, C. molligodai, and C. podihuna), and 20 or 21 lamellae beneath fourth toe (15–16 in C. manoae).

The new species is distinguished from Cnemaspis scalpensis (Ferguson, 1877); C. gemunu Bauer, de Silva, Greenbaum et al., 2007; C. phillipsi Manamendra-Arachchi, Batuwita & Pethiyagoda, 2007; C. godagedarai de Silva, Bauer, Botejue et al., 2019; and C. anslemi Karunarathna & Ukuwela, 2019 by having ten femoral pores in males (11–16), 16 interfemoral scales (7–14), 119–127 ventrals (less than 118 in C. anslemi and C. gemunu, and more than 128 in C. godagedarai and C. phillipsi), 20–22 ventral scales across belly (less than 19 in C. gemunu and C. scalpensis), 89–95 mid body scale rows (less than 88 in C. gemunu and C. scalpensis, and more than 98 in C. godagedarai), 117–126 paravertebral granules (less than 112 in C. gemunu, C. godagedarai, and C. scalpensis), and 4 or 5 spine-like tubercles on flank (9–11 in C. scalpensis).

Unlike the new species, all the species listed below have no enlarged median subcaudals: Cnemaspis butewai Karunarathna, Poyakov, de Silva et al., 2019b; C. ingerorum Batuwita, Agarwal & Bauer, 2019; C. kallima Manamendra-Arachchi, Batuwita & Pethiyagoda, 2007; C. kandiana (Kelaart, 1852); C. kivulege darai Karunarathna, Poyakov, de Silva et al., 2019b; C. kotagamai Karunarathna, de Silva, Botejue et al., 2019c; C. menikay Manamendra-Arachchi, Batuwita & Pethiyagoda, 2007; C. retigalensis; C. pava Manamendra-Arachchi, Batuwita & Pethiyagoda, 2007; C. pulchra Manamendra-Arachchi, Batuwita & Pethiyagoda, 2007; C. samanalensis Wickramasinghe & Munindradasa, 2007; C. silvula Manamendra-Arachchi, Batuwita & Pethiyagoda, 2007; C. tropidogaster (Boulenger, 1885); C. upendrai Manamendra-Arachchi, Batuwita & Pethiyagoda, 2007; C. amith Manamendra-Arachchi, Batuwita & Pethiyagoda, 2007; C. dissanayakai Karunarathna, de Silva, Madawala et al., 2019c; C. gotaimbarai Karunarathna, Poyakov, de Silva et al., 2019b; C. kawminiae Karunarathna, de Silva, Gabadage et al., 2019c; C. kumarasinghei Wickramasinghe & Munindradasa, 2007; C. latha Manamendra-Arachchi, Batuwita & Pethiyagoda, 2007; C. nandimithrai Karunarathna, Poyarkov, de Silva et al., 2019b, and C. lokugei Karunarathna, de Silva, Gabadage et al., 2021.

Furthermore, C. butewai, C. ingerorum, C. kallima, C. kandiana, C. kivulegedarai, C. kotagamai, C. menikay, C. pava, C. pulchra, C. retigalensis, C. samanalensis, C. silvula, C. tropidogaster, C. upendrai, and C. lokugei have heterogeneous dorsal granules (vs homogeneous in C. gunasekarai sp. nov.). Finally, C. pava, C. pulchra, C. samanalensis, C. silvula, C. tropidogaster, and C. upendrai have keeled ventral scales (vs smooth in C. gunasekarai sp. nov.). (Amarasinghe et al. 2021).

Color in life: The holotype had a dorsal pattern of cream vertebral markings on a uniform yellowish brown background color; snout dark yellowish brown; behind the eye, two dark brown blotches; the neck had a bright yellow and black stripe, and a vertebral cream stripe shading posteriorly; several pale and dark blotches scattered on the dorsum; arms and legs uniform light brown with pale and dark blotches; yellowish brown tail had ten pale yellow markings; ventral head white, pectoral area pinkish violet, abdomen shaded bright yellow, tail bright orangish yellow, palm and foot gray; dorsal side of hand and leg with black cross stripes. (Amarasinghe et al. 2021). 
CommentSimilar species: C. nilgala, C. hitihamii

Conservation status: Critically Endangered (CR) [IUCN criteria is B1a,b (iii)] 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is a noun in the genitive singular case, honoring a leading environmental activist, conservationist, and former Deputy Director of Sri Lanka Customs (Government of Sri Lanka), Mr. Samantha Gunasekara, for his dedication and contributions to biodiversity conservation in Sri Lanka, as well as his generous friendship and support towards the authors. His valuable contributions to the Sri Lanka Customs Department in controlling biodiversity trafficking, illegal pet trade, and biopiracy, as well as to popularizing conservation among the general public, are highly commendable. Mr. Gunasekara is also a senior member and a former president of the Young Zoologists’ Association (YZA) of Sri Lanka. 
References
  • Agarwal, I., Biswas, S., Bauer, A.M., Greenbaum, E., Jackman, T.R., De Silva, A. & Batuwita, S. 2017. Cryptic species, taxonomic inflation, or a bit of both? New species phenomenon in Sri Lanka as suggested by a phylogeny of dwarf geckos (Reptilia, Squamata, Gekkonidae, Cnemaspis). Systematics and Biodiversity, 15, 427–439 - get paper here
  • Amarasinghe, A. T., Karunarathna, S., Madawala, M., & de Silva, A. 2021. TWO NEW RUPICOLOUS DAY GECKOS OF THE Cnemaspis alwisi GROUP (REPTILIA: GEKKONIDAE) FROM SRI LANKA. TAPROBANICA, 10 (1): pp. 23–38
 
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