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Hemidactylus xericolus LAJMI, GIRI, SINGH & AGARWAL, 2020

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common NamesE: Nalgonda yellow-tailed brookiish gecko 
SynonymHemidactylus xericolus LAJMI, GIRI, SINGH & AGARWAL 2020 
DistributionIndia (Telangana)

Type locality: near Marrigudda, District Nalgonda, Telangana, India (16.96270° N, 78.85869° E, 430 m asl)  
TypesHolotype: NCBS NRC-AA-1110, adult male; collected on 23 August 2015. Collected by Aparna Lajmi, Taneraw Singh and Maitreya Sil.
Paratypes. CES 16170 adult male, NRC-AA-1111 adult female. Collection details are same as the holotype. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A small sized Hemidactylus, snout-vent length up to at least 44.7 mm (n=3). Dorsal pholidosis heterogeneous composed of subcircular granular scales intermixed with moderately enlarged, circular, flattened, feebly keeled tubercles extending from occiput to tail and in 6–8 irregularly arranged longitudinal rows at midbody. Ventrolateral folds indistinct, about 21–26 scale rows across venter. Digits with slightly enlarged, divided scansors; lamellae in oblique series, seven (manus) and six or seven (pes) beneath fourth digit and four (manus and pes) beneath first digit; 15 or 16 precloacofemoral pores on each side separated by a single poreless scale in males (n=2). Original tail slightly depressed, verticillate, oval in transverse section with indistinct median dorsal furrow; dorsal tail pholidosis heterogenous with rounded, smooth, subimbricate scales intermixed with two to three enlarged, conical keeled tubercles at the base of every whorl, on either side of median dorsal furrow; subcaudals much enlarged; a pair of slightly enlarged postcloacal spurs on either side. Dorsal colouration of transversely arranged, pale grey to ashy markings on a pale, mustard-brown background; nuchal collar indicated by spots, not in contact with postorbital streak. The tail is distinctly yellow in adults of both sexes and juveniles.

Comparison with other members of the H. brookii group. Hemidactylus xericolus sp. nov. can be distinguished from many members of the H. brookii group by its small adult size (maximum SVL 44.7 mm versus 55.8 in H. brookii, 51.5 mm in H. chikhaldaraensis, 74.2 mm in H. chipkali, 56.2 mm in H. cf. gleadowi, 51.4 mm in H. kushmorensis, 65.0 mm in H. murrayi (Lajmi et al. 2016), 53.8 mm in H. malcolmsmithi, 52.3 mm in H. parvimaculatus (Lajmi et al. 2016), 62.5 mm in H. rishivalleyensis, 50.8 mm in H. sankariensis, 61.7 mm in H. subtreidroides, 70.2 mm in H. treutleri, and 61.9 mm in H. varadgirii). Hemidactylus xericolus sp. nov. can be distinguished from the species that are less than 55 mm SVL by the presence of dorsal tubercles in 6–8 irregularly arranged rows versus 15–17 fairly regularly arranged rows in H. chikhaldaraensis; 19 or 20 fairly regularly arranged longitudinal rows in H. kushmorensis; 15–20 fairly regularly arranged longitudinal rows in H. malcolmsmithi; 15–18 fairly regularly arranged longitudinal rows in H. parvimaculatus; 15 fairly regularly arranged longitudinal rows in H. sankariensis. The new species can be easily distinguished from members of the ground dwelling clade by the presence of 15 or 16 precloacofemoral pores on each side in males (versus <8 precloacal pores in males of H. albofasciatus Grandison & Soman, H. gracilis Blanford, H. imbricatus, H. reticulatus Beddome, H. sataraensis Giri & Bauer and H. vijayraghavani Mirza). Hemidactylus xericolus sp. nov. can be distinguished from H. gleadowi by the lower number of scales across the belly (21–26 versus 32–34) and fewer dorsal tubercle rows (6–8 versus 17 or 18). The yellow colouration of the tail in life, the dorsal colour pattern and the very low number of dorsal tubercle rows are unique among Indian Hemidactylus.
Hemidactylus xericolus sp. nov. is most closely related to its sister species, Hemidactylus flavicaudus sp. nov. but is genetically deeply divergent (Table 2) and can be diagnosed from based on fewer dorsal tubercle rows at mid-body (6–8 versus 11–14) as well as in dorsal colour pattern (upper preorbital streaks on each side almost meeting at rostral versus meeting at rostral; nuchal collar indicated by spots and usually not meeting postorbital streak laterally versus complete nuchal collar meeting postorbital streak laterally.

Colouration in life (Fig. 5 B). Dorsal ground colour of head, body, limbs and tail beige with scattered indistinct lighter blotches. Two distinct dark preorbital streaks enclosing a yellow streak, upper narrower and converging from each side at rostral but not meeting, lower terminating at supralabials three and four; distinct dark postorbital streak flanked by narrow yellow markings which is broader than the lower preorbital streak and extends from behind eye until the nuchal collar with a break just after the tympanum; anterior portion of brille yellow. Head dorsum mottled and suffused with yellow, interorbital region slightly bluish, three large spots forming a transverse series on occiput in line with the end of the postorbital streak; nuchal collar indicated by three dark spots, the central largest; a large dark spot above forelimb insertions; labials with fine black spots and some yellow on anterior supralabials, rostral yellowish. Dorsum with four sets of dark markings between limb insertions; the first three consist of a central spot flanked on four corners by four smaller or subequal spots (forming the arms of an X) and the fourth has a central spot flanked by one spot on either side, the outer spots flanked by another row of similar sized spots on the flanks.
Tibia, tarsus, femur and digits with a few dark cross bars; tail suffused with saffron-yellow, five dark cross bars on original portion, regenerated portion similar to rest of tail ground colour except with less yellow. Venter off-white, immaculate. 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is a masculine adjective derived from the Greek xeros (= dry) and the Latin cola (= inhabitant of) and is descriptive of the arid, scrub habitats that the new species and many other endemic In- dian Hemidactylus inhabit. The name also seeks to bring attention to the neglected and biodiverse Indian dry zone. 
  • LAJMI, A., GIRI, V. B., SINGH, T., & AGARWAL, I. 2020. Two new species of yellow-tailed Hemidactylus Goldfuss, 1820 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from rocky outcrops on the Telangana Plateau, India. Zootaxa 4895(4): 483-504 - get paper here
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