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Cnemaspis sakleshpurensis KHANDEKAR, THACKERAY, & AGARWAL, 2022

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymCnemaspis sakleshpurensis KHANDEKAR, THACKERAY, & AGARWAL 2022 
DistributionIndia (Karnataka)

Type locality: vicinity of Mookanana Resort, Hongadahalla village, Sakleshpur (12.7811°N, 75.7079°E; elevation ca. 850 m), Hassan District, Karnataka, India.  
ReproductionOviparous; 2-3 eggs per clutch (Khandekar et al. 2022) 
TypesHolotype: BNHS 2814 (AK 862), adult male, collected by Akshay Khandekar, Swapnil Pawar and Tejas Thackeray on 5th June 2019.
Paratypes: NRC-AA-1165 (AK 864), adult female, NRC-AA-1164 (AK 863), sub-adult female, same collection data as holotype. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A small-sized Cnemaspis, snout to vent length less than 32 mm (n=3). Dorsal pholidosis heterogeneous; weakly keeled, granular scales on the vertebral and paravertebral region with a few scattered enlarged keeled tubercles, intermixed with irregularly arranged rows of large, keeled, tubercles on flank; upper most row strongly keeled and weakly conical, rest much enlarged, weakly keeled and spine-like; eight or nine rows of dorsal tubercles at mid-body; ventral scales smooth, imbricate, 23–26 scales across belly, 118–127 longitudinal scales from mental to cloaca; subdigital scansors smooth, entire, unnotched; 9–11 lamellae under digit I of manus and 11 lamellae under digit I of pes, 14–16 lamellae under digit IV of manus and 16–20 lamellae under digit IV of pes; male (n=1/3) with three or four femoral pores, separated by 10 or 11 poreless scales from continuous series of two precloacal pores; each pore bearing scale flanked posteriorly with enlarged spine-like scale; tail with enlarged, strongly keeled, distinctly pointed, conical tubercles forming whorls; a median row of sub-caudal scales slightly enlarged, smooth only at anterior half of the tail, rest strongly keeled. Dorsal colouration grey-brown with a discontinuous, poorly defined light brown mid-dorsal streak extending from occiput to tail base, with yellow diffuse blotches and a few small black spots forming eight indistinct bars on dorsum; dark medial ocellus on occiput and another slightly smaller just anterior to forelimb insertions; original tail banded. (KHANDEKAR et al. 2022)

Comparisons: Cnemaspis sakleshpurensis sp. nov. can be morphologically distinguished from all other described members of the goaensis clade on the basis of the following differing or non-overlapping characters: male with three or four femoral pores on each thigh, separated by 10 or 11 poreless scales from continuous series of two precloacal pores (versus three or four femoral pores on each thigh, separated by seven or eight poreless scales from continuous series of three or four precloacal pores in C. amboliensis Sayyed, Pyron and Dileepkumar, 2018; two or three femoral pores, separated by eight or nine poreless scales from continuous series of three precloacal pores in C. ranganaensis); 23–26 scales across belly at mid-body (versus 19–22 ventral scales across belly at mid-body in C. amboliensis; 27–32 ventral scales across belly at mid-body in C. goaensis; 30 or 31 ventral scales across
belly at mid-body in C. ranganaensis); 118–127 longitudinal ventral scales from mental to cloaca (versus 93–101 longitudinal ventral scales from mental to cloaca in C. ranganaensis); scales on upper arm and thigh unicarinate (versus scales on upper arm and thigh tricarinate in C. amboliensis); internasal scales absent, supranasals in strong contact with each other on snout (versus one or two internasal scales present, supranasals separated from each other by one or two internasal scales on snout in C. goaensis).
Cnemaspis sakleshpurensis sp. nov. is morphologically similar to its sympatric species C. schalleri Khandekar, Thackeray and Agarwal, 2021 of monticola clade in body size, having spine-like scales on flanks and presence of both femoral and precloacal pores in males. However, the new species can be easily distinguished from C. schalleri by having eight or nine irregularly arranged rows of dorsal tubercles at mid-body (versus 14–16 regularly arranged rows of dorsal tubercles at mid-body), and having only a few scattered tubercles in paravertebral region on body between forelimb and hindlimb insertion (versus a regular series of 17–20 tubercles in paravertebral rows on the body between forelimb and hindlimb insertions). (KHANDEKAR et al. 2022)

Coloration: Dorsal ground colouration of head, body, limbs and tail grey-brown; head mottled with smaller dark speckles. An indistinct fine darker vertical streak runs between the orbits; indistinct slightly darker preorbital streak runs from orbit to supranasal, two darker postorbital streaks extending onto neck; labials light yellow with indistinct darker bars; supraciliaries dirty yellow. A dark medial ocellus on occiput and another slightly smaller just anterior to forelimb insertions. A discontinuous, poorly defined light brown mid-dorsal streak extends from occiput to tail base, with yellow diffuse blotches and a few small black spots forming eight indistinct bars on dorsum. Lower flank much lighter with straw coloured enlarged spine-like tubercles on each side; tail colouration light brown with 13 alternating darker bands, post cloacal tubercles and pointed tubercles on lateral rows in alternating whorls dull-white. Dorsum of limbs with few indistinct light and dark bands, digits with distinct alternating dark and light bands, a strong dark streak on the posterior of femur. Ventral surfaces dull-white, underside of head and neck throat dirty white with light yellow on lateral sides, fine black spots under forelimbs, belly, hindlimbs and tail white with fine black speckles. Pupil black, outlined by bronze iris. (KHANDEKAR et al. 2022) 
CommentNatural history: Individuals were seen active during the day time (0800–1700 hrs) on rocky faces in shaded areas alongside streams, on tree trunks and occasionally on building walls at a height of 2–5 m above ground. The holotype (BNHS 2814) was collected from a rock crevice in a forested patch just after moderate rain showers, a sub-adult female (NRC-AA-1164) was found active on a mossy tree trunk in the afternoon hours, and an adult female (NRCAA-1165) was collected early morning (0700 hrs) from a building wall. (KHANDEKAR et al. 2022) 
EtymologyNamed after Sakleshpur in Hassan district of Karnataka, the place where the species is currently known from. 
References
  • Khandekar A, Thackeray T, Agarwal I 2022. Three new cryptic species of South Asian Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Squamata, Gekkonidae) from Karnataka, India. Vertebrate Zoology 72: 115-142 - get paper here
 
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