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Cyrtodactylus rukhadeva GRISMER, SUWANNAPOOM, PAWANGKHANANT, NAZAROV, YUSHCHENKO, NAIDUANGCHAN, LE, LUU & POYARKOV, 2021

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: tree spirit bent-toed gecko 
SynonymCyrtodactylus rukhadeva GRISMER, SUWANNAPOOM, PAWANGKHANANT, NAZAROV, YUSHCHENKO, NAIDUANGCHAN, LE, LUU & POYARKOV 2021 
DistributionThailand (Ratchaburi)

Type locality: Thailand, Ratchaburi Province, Suan Phueng District, Khao Laem Mountain (13.53846N, 99.20071E, elevation 994 m a.s.l.).  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. ZMMU R-16851, Adult male (field tag NAP- 09743, tissue sample ID HLM0372), collected by Platon V. Yushchenko and Kawin Jia- ranaisakul on 19 June 2019.
Paratype. Adult female ZMMU R-16852 (field tag NAP-09744) from Thailand, Ratchaburi Province, Suan Phueng District, Hoop Phai Tong (3.56210N, 99.20670E, elevation 593 m a.s.l.), collected by Platon Yushchenko on 11 July 2019. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Cyrtodactylus rukhadeva sp. nov. can be separated from all other species of the brevipalmatus group by having 9–11 supralabials, 10 or 11 infralabials, 27–30 paravertebral tubercles, 19 or 20 rows of longitudinally arranged tubercles, 34–43 transverse rows of ventrals, 152–154 longitudinal rows of ventrals, nine expanded subdigital lamellae on the fourth toe, 11 unexpanded subdigital lamellae on the fourth toe, 18–20 total subdigital lamellae on the fourth toe, eight or nine expanded subdigital lamellae on the fourth finger, nine or 10 unexpanded subdigital lamellae on the fourth finger, 17–19 total subdigital lamellae on the fourth finger, 16–17 enlarged femorals, 20 femoral pores in the male; 17 precloacal pores in the male; 13–17 enlarged precloacals; 16 post-precloacals; enlarged femorals and enlarged precloacals not continuous; proximal femorals not less than one-half the size of the distal femorals; small tubercles on forelimbs and flanks; small dorsolateral caudal tubercles and ventrolateral caudal fringe; paired enlarged subcaudals; and maximum SVL 79.4 mm (Tables 1, 4).

Description of holotype. (Figs. 7 and 8) Adult male SVL 74.9 mm; head moderate in length (HL/SVL 0.27), width (HW/HL 0.72), depth (HD/HL 0.46), distinct from neck, triangular in dorsal profile; lores concave slightly anteriorly, weakly inflated posteriorly; prefrontal region slightly concave; canthus rostralis rounded; snout elongate (ES/HL 0.41), rounded in dorsal profile; eye large (ED/HL 0.23); ear opening round, small; eye to ear distance greater than diameter of eye; rostral rectangular, partially divided dorsally by inverted Y-shaped furrow, bordered posteriorly by large left and right supranasals and one small azygous internasal, bordered laterally by first supralabials; external nares bordered anteriorly by rostral, dorsally by large supranasal, posteriorly by two smaller postnasals, bordered ventrally by first supralabial; 11(R,L) rectangular supralabials extending to below midpoint of eye, second supralabial same size as first; 10(R,L) infralabials tapering smoothly to just below and slightly past posterior margin of eye; scales of rostrum and lores flat to domed, larger than granular scales on top of head and occiput; scales of occiput and interorbital region intermixed with distinct, small tubercles; superciliaries subrectngular, largest anteriorly; mental triangular, bordered laterally by first infralabials and posteriorly by large left and right trapezoidal postmentals contacting medially for 60% of their length posterior to mental; one row of slightly enlarged, elongate sublabials extending posteriorly to fifth infralabial; gular and throat scales small, granular, grading posteriorly into slightly larger, flatter, smooth, imbricate, pectoral and ventral scales.
Body relatively short (AG/SVL 0.46) with defined ventrolateral folds; dorsal scales small, granular interspersed with larger, conical, semi-regularly arranged, moderately keeled tubercles; tubercles extend from interorbital region onto base of tail; smaller tubercles extend anteriorly onto nape and occiput, diminishing in size and distinction in interorbital region; approximately 19 longitudinal rows of tubercles at midbody; approximately 27 paravertebral tubercles; 34 longitudinal rows of flat, imbricate, ventral scales much larger than dorsal scales; 153 transverse rows of ventral scales; 17 large, pore-bearing, precloacal scales; no deep precloacal groove or depression; and nine rows of post-precloacal scales on midline.
Forelimbs moderate in stature, relatively short (ForL/ SVL 0.11); granular scales of forearm slightly larger than those on body, interspersed with small tubercles; palmar scales rounded, slightly raised; digits well-developed, relatively short, inflected at basal interphalangeal joints; digits narrower distal to inflections; subdigital lamellae wide, transversely expanded proximal to joint inflections, narrower transverse lamellae distal to joint inflections; claws well-developed, claw base sheathed by a dorsal and ventral scale; nine expanded and 11 unexpanded lamellae beneath first finger; hind limbs more robust than forelimbs, moderate in length (TibL/SVL 0.13), covered dorsally by granular scales interspersed with moderately sized, conical tubercles and anteriorly by flat, slightly larger scales; ventral scales of thigh flat, subimbricate, larger than dorsals; subtibial scales flat, imbricate; one row of 9,8(R,L) enlarged femoral scales not continuous with enlarged precloacal scales, terminating distally at knee; proximal femoral scales smaller than distal femorals, the latter forming an abrupt union with smaller, rounded, ventral scales of posteroventral margin of thigh; 8,9(R,L) femoral pores; plantar scales flat; digits relatively long, well-developed, inflected at basal interphalangeal joints; 8(R,L) wide, transversely expanded subdigital lamellae on fourth toe proximal to joint inflection that extend onto sole; nine expanded and 10 unexpanded lamellae beneath first toe; and claws well-developed, sheathed by a dorsal and ventral scale at base.
Tail long (TL/SVL 1.29) 6.8 mm in width at base, tapering to a point; dorsal scales flat, square bearing tubercles forming paravertebral rows and slightly larger tubercles forming a dorsolateral longitudinal row; enlarged, posteriorly directed semi-spinose tubercles forming small but distinct ventrolateral caudal fringe; median row of paired, transversely expanded subcaudal scales, larger than dorsal caudal scales; base of tail bearing hemipenal swellings; three conical postcloacal tubercles at base of hemipenal swellings; and postcloacal scales flat, imbricate.

Coloration in life (Fig. 8). Ground color of the head body, limbs, and tail brown; faint, diffuse mottling on the top of the head; wide, dark-brown post-orbital stripe;
lores darkbrown; nuchal band faint, bearing two posterior projections; three wide faint body bands edged in darkbrown between limb insertions; band interspaces bearing irregularly shaped, dark markings; faint dark speckling on limbs and digits; five wide slightly darker caudal bands separated by five lighter caudal bands; posterior tip of regenerated tail unbanded; ventral surfaces beige, generally immaculate; gular region lacking pigment; poaterior subcaudal region faintly banded; iris orangish gold in color.

Variation (Fig. 8). The female paratype differs significantly from the male holotype in coloration and pattern. The holotype has a much less contrasting dorsal pattern with only faint indications of dorsal body and caudal bands whereas the paratype is boldly marked, bearing a one dark jagged-edged nuchal band and three dark jagged-edged body bands, all with darkened borders. The caudal pattern of the paratype consists of six dark and seven light-colored contrasting bands on a full original tail whereas the holotype has four dark and light-colored weakly contrasting bands and a regenerated tail tip. The top of the head of the holotype is essentially unicolor whereas that of the paratype is darkly mottled. With only one specimen of each sex we cannot say if these differences in color pattern are sexually dimorphic. An uncataloged juvenile had a generally unicolor tan dorsal ground color overlain with a dark-brown nuchal loop bearing two posteriorly oriented projections, four complete to incomplete dark-brown body bands, and nine dark-brown caudal bands separated by eight tan to white caudal bands (Fig. 8).

Comparisons. Given the low sample size (n=2) of Cyrtodactylus rukhadeva sp. nov., meaningful statistical comparisons of meristic were not possible. However, some character ranges—at this point—are diagnostic in that they are widely separated from one another. We are well aware that a larger sample size may preclude some of these characters as being diagnostic but it is equally probable that they will demonstrate that they are truly diagnostic. Cyrtodactylus rukhadeva sp. nov. can be separated from C. ngati in having fewer paravertebral tubercles (PVT; 27–30 vs 38–40), from C. elok in having more longitudinal rows of dorsal tubercles (LRT; 19 or 20 vs 4–7), from C. brevipalmatus and C. elok in having fewer transverse rows of ventral scales (VSM; 152–154 vs 172– 180 and 190–234, respectively), from C. brevipalmatus in having more enlarged femoral scales (FS; 16 or 17 vs 10–16), from all species in having more femoral pores in males (FP; 20 vs 0–17 collectively), from C. cf. interdigitalis, C. brevipalmatus, and C. elok in having males having more precloacal pores (PP; 17 vs 13, 7, and 8, respectively), and from all species except C. elok in having more post-precloacal scales (PPS; 16 vs 2–10, cllectively. All ranges are presented in Table 5. Summary statistics and comparisons among the adjusted morphometric characters are presented in Table 6.
Cyrtodactylus rukhadeva sp. nov. can be readily separated from all other species on the basis of discrete morphological differences (Table 4). Cyrtodactylus rukhadeva sp. nov. has paravertebral tubercles and enlarged femoral scales which are absent in C. elok. Cyrtodactylus rukhadeva sp. nov. has small tubercles on the forelimbs which are absent in C. cf. interdigitalis, C. ngati, and C. elok. Cyrtodactylus rukhadeva sp. nov. has small tubercles on the flanks, femoral pores in males, enlarged dorsolateral tubercles, and a large ventrolateral caudal fringe that are absent in C. elok. Cyrtodactylus rukhadeva sp. nov. has a square tail in cross-section versus a round tail in C. cf. interdigitalis, C. ngati, and C. brevipalmatus. Cyrtodactylus rukhadeva sp. nov. has single enlarged subcaudal scales versus paired enlarged subcaudal scales in C. cf. interdigitalis and C. brevipalmatus. Cyrtodactylus elok and C. ngati lack distinctly enlarged subcaudal scales. Cyrtodactylus rukhadeva sp. nov. has a prehensile tail apparently lacking in C. ngati. Figure 9 illustrates the general morphological and color pattern similarity of the other members of the brevipalmatus group to C. rukhadeva sp. nov. 
CommentResponse to our inquiry about this species: “I am grateful for your interest in our recent publications including the description of Cyrtodactylus rukhadeva and other new species. However, I am sorry to inform you that in the scope of the current political situation - I refer to the unjust war and invasion of Russia to Ukraine, and the resulting whirlpool of numerous humanitarian, economic and social problems both in Russia and Ukraine, as well as in Europe and other parts of the world, I think it would be unwise to feature our publication in the Reptile Database. As I and some of the coauthors represent Moscow State University (the largest and the most famous university in Russia) I believe it would be quite inconsistent to feature our work at least until the fighting and occupation continues in Ukraine.
Therefore I would ask you to temporarily refrain from updating your database with our recent publications.” (Nick Poyarkov, pers. comm., 27 Jun 2022). 
EtymologyNamed after the spirits or gods residing in trees in Thai mythology, known as Rukha Deva (literally “Tree Nymphs”). According to Thai folklore, these sylvan spirits live on tree branches and on large older trees wearing traditional Thai attire, usually in reddish or brownish colours, and are believed to protect the forest. The new arboreal species of Cyrtodactylus resides in one of the remaining fragments of the north Tenasserim montane forests. We want to underscore the need for the immediate assessment of herpetofaunal diversity surveys and implementation of adequate conservation measures for these relic forests. The specific epithet “rukhadeva” is given as a noun in apposition.  
References
  • Grismer LL, Rujirawan A, Yodthong S, Stuart BL, Le Duc M, Trung Le D, Chuaynkern Y, Wood, Jr.PL, Aowphol A 2022. The taxonomy and phylogeny of the Cyrtodactylus brevipalmatus group (Squamata: Gekkonidae) with emphasis on C. interdigitalis and C. ngati. Vertebrate Zoology 72 245–269 - get paper here
  • Grismer LL, Suwannapoom C, Pawangkhanant, P, Nazarov RA, Yushchenko PV, Naiduangchan M, Le MD, Luu VQ, Poyarkov NA 2021. A new cryptic arboreal species of the Cyrtodactylus brevipalmatus group (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the uplands of western Thailand. Vertebrate Zoology 71: 723–746 - get paper here
 
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