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Cnemaspis monticola MANAMENDRA-ARACHCHI, BATUWITA & PETHIYAGODA, 2007

IUCN Red List - Cnemaspis monticola - Data Deficient, DD

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymCnemaspis monticola MANAMENDRA-ARACHCHI, BATUWITA & PETHIYAGODA 2007 
DistributionIndia (Kerala)

Type locality: “Wynaad” (Kerala State, south-western India),  
Reproductionoviparous 
TypesHolotype: BMNH 74.4.29.372 (adult female), 26.0 mm SVL, purchased from Colonel Beddome (formerly a syntype of C. tropidogaster).
Paratypes. BMNH 74.4.29.373, SVL 33.1 mm, adult female; BMNH 74.4.29.374, SVL 18.3 mm, sub-adult female, same collection data as holotype. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Cnemaspis monticola is distinguished from its peninsular Indian and Sri Lankan congeners by a combination of the following characters: maximum SVL 33.1 mm; paired postmentals separated by a small scale; each postmental bounded by 3 scales including medial scale; dorsal scales heterogeneous; 5 spine-like tubercles present on flank; gulars carinate, other ventrals smooth, rounded, ventral surface of thigh smooth; preanal and femoral pores absent in females; subcaudals enlarged, intermixed with smooth, carinate scales; supralabials to angle of jaws, 8; subdigital lamellae on digit IV of pes, 18 [from MANAMENDRA-ARACHCHI et al. 2007].

Diagnosis. A small-sized Cnemaspis, maximum SVL 36 mm (n=8). Dorsal pholidosis heterogeneous; weakly keeled, granular scales intermixed with about four or five regularly arranged rows of large, weakly keeled tubercles on each flank, tubercles in last two longitudinal rows largest, spine-like; 7–10 regularly arranged rows of dorsal tubercles at mid-body; a regular series of 8–10 paravertebral tubercles between forelimb and hindlimb insertions; ventral scales on belly and pectoral regions smooth, imbricate, scales on gular region smooth or weakly carinate; 29–35 transverse scales across belly at mid-body; 113–129 longitudinal scales from mental to cloaca; subdigital scansors smooth, entire, unnotched; 8–12 lamellae under first digit of manus and 9–11 lamellae under first digit of pes; 14–16 lamellae under fourth digit of manus and 16–19 lamellae under fourth digit of pes; males with 3–5 femoral pores on each thigh separated on either side by 9–12 poreless scales from a continuous series of three or four precloacal pores (n=6); tail with enlarged, strongly keeled, distinctly pointed, conical tubercles forming whorls; median row of sub-caudal scales slightly enlarged, smooth at anterior half and strongly keeled posteriorly. Dorsal colouration dirty brown, light mid-dorsal spot on nape, sometimes forming a mid-dorsal stripe which extends on to tail, indistinct wavy cross-bars between forelimb insertions and tail base sometimes discernible; original tail banded (Khandekar et al. 2021).

Comparisons with peninsular Indian congeners. Cnemaspis monticola can be distinguished from all other Indian congeners on the basis of the following differing or non-overlapping characters: small-sized Cnemaspis SVL up to 36 mm (versus medium-sized Cnemaspis SVL 40–50 mm in C. anandani Murthy, Anandan, Sengupta & Deepak, C. bangara Agarwal, Thackeray, Pal & Khandekar, C. boiei (Gray), C. chengodumalaensis Cyriac, Palot, Deuti & Umesh, C. jerdonii (Theobald), C. kolhapurensis Giri, Bauer & Gaikwad, C. heteropholis Bauer, C. kottiyoorensis Cyriac & Umesh, C. nairi Inger, Marx & Koshy, C. nilagirica, C. graniticola Agarwal, Thackeray, Pal & Khandekar, C. yelagiriensis Agarwal, Thackeray, Pal & Khandekar, C. wynadensis (Beddome), C. ornata (Beddome), and C. thackerayi Khandekar, Gaitonde & Agarwal; large-sized Cnemaspis SVL >50 mm in C. anamudiensis Cyriac, Johny, Umesh, & Palot, C. beddomei (Theobald), C. maculicollis Cyriac, Johny, Umesh, & Palot, C. magnifica Khandekar, Thackeray, Pal & Agarwal, C. sisparensis (Theobald), and C. zacharyi Cyriac, Palot, Deuti & Umesh); spine-like tubercles present on flanks (versus spine-like tubercles absent on flanks in C. aaronbaueri Sayyed, Grismer, Campbell & Dileepkumar, C. adii Srinivasulu, Kumar & Srinivasulu, C. agarwali Khandekar, C. ajijae Sayyed, Pyron & Dileepkumar, C. amba Khandekar, Thackeray & Agarwal, C. anamudiensis, C. australis, C. bangara, C. beddomei, C. boiei, C. chengodumalaensis, C. girii Mirza, Pal, Bhosale & Sanap, C. graniticola, C. heteropholis, C. indica (Gray), C. kolhapurensis, C. kottiyoorensis, C. limayei Sayyed, Pyron & Dileepkumar, C. maculicollis, C. magnifica, C. mahabali Sayyed, Pyron & Dileepkumar, C. nairi, C. ornata, C. palakkadensis Sayyed, Cyriac & Dileepkumar, C. shevaroyensis, C. sisparensis, C. thackerayi, C. wynadensis, and C. yelagiriensis, and C. zacharyi); scales on dorsal aspect of trunk heterogeneous (versus scales on dorsal aspect of trunk homogeneous in C. adii, C. assamensis Das & Sengupta, C. boiei, C. indica, C. jerdonii, C. kolhapurensis, C. littoralis, C. nilagirica, C. palakkadensis, C. sisparensis, C. wynadensis, and C. zacharyi); caudal tubercles enlarged, strongly keeled, distinctly pointed, forming whorls (versus scales on dorsal aspect of tail smooth, without whorls of enlarged tubercles in C. anamudiensis, C. beddomei, C. boiei, C. chengodumalaensis, C. heteropholis, C. indica, C. kolhapurensis, C. kottiyoorensis, C. maculicollis, C. magnifica, C. sisparensis, C. wynadensis, and C. zacharyi); median row of sub-caudal scales slightly enlarged, smooth only at anterior half of the tail, rest strongly keeled (versus median row of sub-caudal scales smooth, not enlarged in C. amba, C. ajijae, C. australis, C. flaviventralis Sayyed, Pyron & Dahanukar, C. girii, C. limayei and C. koynaensis Khandekar, Thackeray & Agarwal; sub-caudal scales smooth, median row distinctly enlarged in C. aaronbaueri, C. agarwali, C. anandani, C. bangara, C. beddomei, C. boiei, C. chengodumalaensis, C. gracilis, C. graniticola, C. heteropholis, C. indica, C. jerdonii, C. kolhapurensis, C. kottiyoorensis, C. littoralis (Jerdon), C. magnifica, C. nairi, C. nilagirica, C. ornata, C. palakkadensis, C. shevaroyensis, C. sisparensis, C. thackerayi, C. wynadensis, C. yelagiriensis, and C. zacharyi); males with 3–5 femoral pores on each thigh separated by 8–10 poreless scales on either side from a continuous series of two (rarely three) precloacal pores (versus precloacal pores absent and femoral pores present in C. ajijae, C. amba, C. anandani, C. chengodumalaensis, C. flaviventralis, C. girii, C. heteropholis, C. indica, C. jerdonii, C. kottiyoorensis, C. koynaensis, C. limayei, C. littoralis, C. magnifica, C. mahabali, C. nilagirica, C. palakkadensis, C. sisparensis, C. wynadensis, and C. zacharyi; only precloacal pores present in C. aaronbaueri, C. anamudiensis, C. beddomei, C. maculicollis, C. nairi, and C. ornata; both femoral and precloacal pores present, precloacal pores separated medially by poreless scales in C. agarwali, C. gracilis, C. shevaroyensis and C. thackerayi; both femoral and precloacal pores absent in C. assamensis and C. boiei; continuous series of 26–28 precloacal-femoral pores in C. kolhapurensis).
Cnemaspis monticola can be distinguished from members of the mysoriensis clade (C. avasabinae Agarwal, Bauer & Khandekar, C. mysoriensis (Jerdon), C. otai Das & Bauer, C. rishivalleyensis Agarwal, Thackeray & Khandekar, Cnemaspis stellapulvis Khandekar, Thackeray & Agarwal, and C. yercaudensis Das & Bauer) by having a regular series of 8–10 paravertebral tubercles between forelimbs and hindlimbs insertion (versus enlarged tubercles in paravertebral region either absent or irregularly arranged); 29–35 ventral scales across belly at mid-body (versus 17–25 ventral scales across the belly); 113–124 longitudinal ventral scales from mental to cloaca (versus 90–114 longitudinal ventral scales); median row of sub-caudal scales slightly enlarged, smooth only at anterior half of the tail, rest strongly keeled (versus median row of sub-caudals slightly enlarged and smooth).
Cnemaspis monticola closely resembles C. amboliensis and C. goaensis. However, it can be distinguished from both by having 29–35 ventral scales across belly at mid-body (versus 19–22 ventral scales across belly in C. amboliensis); 7–10 regularly arranged rows of dorsal tubercles at mid-body (versus 6–8 rows of dorsal tubercles in C. amboliensis and C. goaensis); a regular series of 8–10 paravertebral tubercles between forelimb and hindlimb insertions (versus paravertebral tubercles between forelimb and hindlimb insertions either absent or irregularly arranged in C. goaensis); 9–12 poreless scales between precloacal and femoral pores (versus seven or eight poreless scales between precloacal and femoral pores in C. amboliensis); dorsal scales on the thigh unicarinate (versus tricarinate in C. amboliensis) (Khandekar et al. 2021).

Colouration in life. (Figure 5A) Dorsal ground colour of head, body, limbs and tail dirty greyish-pink; fine dark pre-orbital streak extends from nostril to preorbital region; labials yellow with alternating grey markings. Mid- dorsal stripe formed by a chain of straw-coloured spots and indistinct dark markings between occiput and tail base, brightest on nape where it is flanked anteriorly and posteriorly by a dark blotch. Flank and side of neck with light yellow markings. Anterior half of tail indistinctly banded, rest mottled. Dorsum of forelimbs and hindlimbs mottled, digits with alternating dark and light bands. Gular, pectoral, abdominal region, and underside of limbs and tail off- white with no dark markings. Pupil black, iris bronze (Khandekar et al. 2021). 
CommentAbundance: only known from its original description (Meiri et al. 2017). 
EtymologyThe species name, ‘monticola’, is Latin for ‘inhabitant of the mountains’, an allusion to the type locality, the Wynaad Hills of Kerala State, India. 
References
  • KHANDEKAR, AKSHAY, TEJAS THACKERAY, and ISHAN AGARWAL 2021. A new small-bodied, polymorphic Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) allied to C. monticola Manamendra-Arachchi, Batuwita & Pethiyagoda, 2007 from the Central Western Ghats of Karnataka, India. Zootaxa 4950 (3): 501-527 - get paper here
  • KHANDEKAR, AKSHAY; TEJAS THACKERAY, ISHAN AGARWAL 2020. A new cryptic Cnemaspis Strauch (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from an isolated granite hill on the Mysore Plateau, Karnataka, India. Zootaxa 4845 (4): 509–528 - get paper here
  • Manamendra-Arachchi, Kelum; Batuwita, Sudesh & Pethiyagoda, Rohan 2007. A taxonomic revision of the Sri Lankan day-geckos (Reptilia: Gekkonidae: Cnemaspis), with description of new species from Sri Lanka and southern India. Zeylanica 7 (1): 9-122
  • Meiri, Shai; Aaron M. Bauer, Allen Allison, Fernando Castro-Herrera, Laurent Chirio, Guarino Colli, Indraneil Das, Tiffany M. Doan, Frank Glaw, Lee L. Grismer, Marinus Hoogmoed, Fred Kraus, Matthew LeBreton, Danny Meirte, Zoltán T. Nagy, Cristiano d 2017. Extinct, obscure or imaginary: the lizard species with the smallest ranges. Diversity and Distributions - get paper here
  • Palot, M.J. 2015. A checklist of reptiles of Kerala, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 7(13): 8010–8022 - get paper here
  • Venugopal, P.D. 2010. An updated and annotated list of Indian lizards (Reptilia: Sauria) based on a review of distribution records and checklists of Indian reptiles. Journal of Threatened Taxa 2 (3): 725-738. - get paper here
 
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