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Hemidactylus varadgirii CHAITANYA, AGARWAL, LAJMI & KHANDEKAR, 2019

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common NamesE: Giri’s ‘brookiish’ gecko, Amboli ‘brookiish’ gecko 
SynonymHemidactylus varadgirii CHAITANYA, AGARWAL, LAJMI & KHANDEKAR 2019 
DistributionIndia (Maharashtra)

Type locality: Amboli (15.9590° N 73.9970° E; ca. 740 m asl), Maharashtra state, India  
TypesHolotype: BNHS 2377, adult male, collected by RC and Varad Giri on 19 May 2018. Paratypes: BNHS 2375, BNHS 2378, adult males, BNHS 2374, BNHS 2376 adult females, collected on 15 february 2019, other collection details same as those of holotype. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A medium sized Hemidactylus, SVL to at least 62 mm (n=5). Dorsal pholidosis composed of granular scales that are heterogeneous in size and shape throughout, intermixed with enlarged, conical, keeled tubercles that are heterogeneous in size, arranged in 17 or 18 fairly regular longitudinal rows at midbody, extending from posterior part of the head to groin; tubercles in parasagittal rows are smaller, keeled and more rounded; approximately six rows of tubercles on either side of parasagittal tubercle rows are highly enlarged, remarkably conical and strongly keeled; ventrolateral folds indistinct; about 30–34 scale rows across the venter. Supralabials up to jaw and midorbital position, 11–13 and eight or nine respectively; 8–11 infralabials. Digits with enlarged scansors, lamellae in straight transverse series, all divided except the apical and a few basal, seven or eight (manus & pes) lamellae beneath fourth digit and five or six (manus & pes) beneath first digit. Males with nine or ten femoral pores (rarely eight) on each side separated by four or five poreless scales. Ventral scales on tail enlarged, imbricate, with a single median row of roughly rectangular, enlarged subcaudal plates covering almost entire tail base, including regenerated tails.

Comparison with Indian congeners from the brookii group. Hemidactylus varadgirii sp. nov. differs from all other Hemidactylus based on phylogenetic position (figure 1) and is therefore compared herein only with members of the brookii group. It is 11.2% –16.3% divergent based on uncorrected ND2 sequence divergence from all other members of the H. murrayi clade (Table 2). It can be diagnosed from the ground-dwelling clade within the brookii group by the presence of divided sub-digital lamellae versus undivided or notched sub-digital lamellae in all species in the ground-dwelling clade. further, it can be diagnosed from the ground-dwelling members based on the enlarged, remarkably conical, strongly keeled tubercles on the dorsum (as opposed to): enlarged tubercles absent from dorsum in H. imbricatus Bauer, Giri, Greenbaum, Jackman, Dharne & Shouche, 2008; tubercles on dorsum only slightly larger than surrounding granular scales in H. albofasciatus Grandison & Soman, 1963, H. sataraensis Giri & Bauer, 2008 and H. gracilis Blanford,1870; tubercles on dorsum rounded, only slightly larger than surrounding granules in H. reticulatus Beddome, 1870 and H. vijayaraghavani Mirza, 2018. The other scansorial congeners from the brookii group can be diagnosed from H. varadgirii sp. nov. based on the following characters: 9 or 10 femoral pores (rarely 8) on each side separated by 4–6 poreless scales, and seven or eight lamellae under digit IV of pes (conflicting characters in parentheses): H. brookii sensu stricto (12 or 13 femoral pores separated by a single poreless scale), H. chipkali (seven femoral pores on each side separated by eight poreless scales), H. gleadowi (12 or 13 femoral pores separated by a single poreless scale), H. kushmorensis (femoral pores separated by two or three poreless scales, ten lamellae under digit IV of pes), H. malcolmsmithi (femoral pores separated medially by 1–3 poreless scales, 9–11 lamellae beneath digit IV of pes), H. murrayi Gleadow, 1887 (6–8 femoral pores, never more than eight, separated by 5–7 poreless scales), H. parvimaculatus (11–17 femoral pores separated by 1–3 poreless scales), H. treutleri (seven femoral pores on each side separated by seven poreless scales), H. sankariensis (15 femoral pores on each side) and H. chikhaldaraensis (six or seven femoral pores on either side separated by seven poreless scales). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is a Latinized patronym in honour of Varad Giri for mentoring the authors in gecko taxonomy. Varad has made sizeable and significant contributions to the taxonomy of reptiles in India and has also been working tirelessly for over 15 years towards the conservation of the Amboli landscape, the type locality of this species. 
  • CHAITANYA, R.; ISHAN AGARWAL, APARNA LAJMI, AKSHAY KHANDEKAR 2019. A novel member of the Hemidactylus brookii complex (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, India. Zootaxa 4646 (2): 236–250 - get paper here
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