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Cnemaspis schalleri KHANDEKAR, THACKERAY, & AGARWAL, 2021

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Schaller’s Sakleshpur dwarf gecko 
SynonymCnemaspis schalleri KHANDEKAR, THACKERAY, & AGARWAL 2021 
DistributionIndia (Karnataka)

Type locality: vicinity of Mookanana Resort, Honga- dahalla village, Sakleshpur (12.781°N, 75.708°E; ca. 850 m asl.), Hassan District, Karnataka, India  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. NRC-AA-1116 (AK 872), SVL 29.4 mm, adult male, collected by Akshay Khandekar, Swapnil Pawar and Tejas Thackeray on 05 June 2019.
Paratypes. NRC-AA-1117 (AK 866), SVL 28.3 mm; NRC-AA-1118 (AK 867), SVL 29.3 mm; NRC-AA-1119 (AK 868), SVL 28.5 mm; BNHS 2794 (AK 870), SVL 30.8 mm; BNHS 2795 (AK 871), SVL 29.4 mm; BNHS 2796 (AK 873), SVL 27.5 mm (all adult males); BNHS 2797 (AK 865), SVL 31.7 mm, adult female, same collec- tion data as holotype. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A small-sized Cnemaspis, maximum SVL 32 mm (n=8). Dorsal pholidosis heterogeneous; weakly keeled, granular scales intermixed with about seven or eight regularly arranged rows of large, weakly keeled tubercles on each flank, tubercles in last two longitudinal rows largest, spine-like; regularly arranged 14–16 rows of dorsal tubercles at mid-body; a regular series of 17–20 paravertebral tubercles between forelimb and hindlimb insertions; ventral scales on pectoral region and belly smooth or keeled, imbricate, scales on gular region keeled; 27–30 transverse scales across belly at mid-body; 111–124 longitudinal scales from mental to cloaca; subdigital scansors smooth, entire, unnotched; 9–11 lamellae under first digit of manus and nine or 10 lamellae under first digit of pes; 13–15 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 8–10 poreless scales from a continuous series of two (rarely three) precloacal pores (n=7); 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 stripe on nape, sometimes running onto tail, medial dark spot on nape which forms an indistinct collar, indistinct cross-bars made up of clusters of small grey blotches between forelimb insertions and tail base sometimes discernible; original tail banded.

Comparison with peninsular Indian congeners. Cnemaspis schalleri sp. nov. 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 32 mm (versus medium-sized Cnemaspis SVL 40–50 mm in C. anandani, C. bangara, C. boiei, C. chengodumalaensis, C. jerdonii, C. kolhapurensis, C. heteropholis, C. kottiyoorensis, C. nairi, C. nilagirica, C. graniticola, C. yelagiriensis, C. wynadensis, C. ornata, and C. thackerayi; large-sized Cnemaspis SVL >50 mm in C. anamudiensis, C. beddomei, C. maculicollis, C. magnifica, C. sisparensis, and C. zacharyi); spine-like tubercles present on flanks (versus spine-like tubercles absent on flanks in C. aaronbaueri, C. adii, C. agarwali, C. ajijae, C. amba, C. anamudiensis, C. australis, C. bangara, C. beddomei, C. boiei, C. chengodumalaensis, C. girii, C. graniticola, C. heteropholis, C. indica, C. kolhapurensis, C. kottiyoorensis, C. limayei, C. maculicollis, C. magnifica, C. mahabali, C. nairi, C. ornata, C. palakkadensis, C. shevaroyensis, C. sisparensis, C. thackerayi, C. wynadensis, 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, C. boiei, C. indica, C. jerdonii, C. kolhapurensis, C. littoralis, C. nilagirica, C. palakkadensis, 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 subcaudal scales smooth, not enlarged in C. amba, C. ajijae, C. australis, C. flaviventralis, C. girii, C. limayei and C. koynaensis; 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, 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 on either side separated by 8–10 poreless scales 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 schalleri sp. nov. can be distinguished from members of the mysoriensis clade (C. avasabinae, C. mysoriensis, C. otai, C. rishivalleyensis, Cnemaspis stellapulvis, and C. yercaudensis) 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 schalleri sp. nov. closely resembles C. amboliensis, C. goaensis and C. monticola; from them it is distinguished based on following differing or non-overlapping characters: regularly arranged 14–16 rows of dorsal tubercles at mid-body (versus 6–8 rows of dorsal tubercles in C. amboliensis and C. goaensis, and 7–10 in C. monticola); a regular series of 17–20 paravertebral tubercles between forelimb and hindlimb insertions (versus 7–13 paravertebral tubercles in C. amboliensis, 8–10 in C. monticola and paravertebral tubercles either absent or irregularly arranged in C. goaensis); 27–30 ventral scales across belly at mid-body (versus 19–22 ventral scales across belly in C. amboliensis and 29–35 in C. monticola); dorsal scales on the thigh unicarinate (versus tricarinate in C. amboliensis).

Colouration in life. (Figure 10A) Dorsal ground colour of head, body, limbs and tail dirty brown; head speckled with black, suffused with yellow anterior to posterior edge of orbit; fine dark pre-orbital streak from nostril to preorbital region; labials yellow with lighter and darker bars. A bright straw-coloured mid-dorsal stripe runs from occiput to tail base, interrupted briefly on the nape by a dark blotch that forms an indistinct collar; scattered dark markings and light grey blotches on dorsum, grey blotches roughly grouped into six sets. Flank with some smaller black spots and elongate light yellow markings. Mid-dorsal stripe continues till about 1/4th tail, 13 narrow, light grey bands on remaining portion. Dorsum of forelimbs mottled, hindlimbs with light and dark markings, digits with alternating dark and light bands. Gular, pectoral, abdominal region and underside of limbs and tail off-white without dark markings. Pupil black, iris copper. 
Comment 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is a patronym honouring George Beals Schaller, for his contributions to conservation, field research and science. Dr. Schaller has worked across a diversity of landscapes, but his early work was in the grasslands of Kanha, Madhya Pradesh, India and he continues to work on large mammals in the Indian subcontinent. 
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
 
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