A new species of day-gecko, a type of lizard, has been discovered by researchers from Osmania University in the ruins of Hampi – a world heritage site in Karnataka. Till date majority of species of this genus have been reported from the Western Ghats of India. This is for the first time a species of the genus is being reported from central part of peninsular India.

 

Hampi and its surroundings is a potential biodiversity rich area and have not been given much attention from the point of view of smaller vertebrate and invertebrate diversity. The new species has been named Cnemaspis adii after Aditya Srinivasulu – a young researcher for his interest in herpetology. The lizard belongs to the family of day geckos, which are characterised by round pupils unlike regular geckos which have vertical pupils.


This discovery has been published in the prestigious journal Zootaxa this month by Chelmala Srinivasulu, G Chethan Kumar and Bhargavi Srinivasulu of Wildlife Biology and Taxonomy Lab, Department of Zoology, Osmania University. The species was first observed by Dr Bhargavi in 2012 while surveying bats in the Hampi complex. Careful observations of the photographs of live animals and researching the known species of day geckos reported from India led to confirmation that the specimens belonged to a hitherto undescribed type.  

 

Three voucher specimens later collected formed the basis of scientific description of this lizard. “These lizards were found to be active during the day time, seen on boulders and walls of temples and other ruins” informed Dr Bhargavi. These lizards feed on insects. Day geckos have been mostly reported from the Western Ghats and southern Eastern Ghats in peninsular India. 

 

“Detection of the presence of day geckos in central regions of the peninsular India between the Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats is interesting and points to the fact that these regions are neglected with respect to documenting biological diversity, understanding habitat conditions and threats to habitats and species diversity dwelling therein,” opined Dr Chelmala Srinivasulu, the lead author of the research paper.  

 

“Majority of research efforts in India are centred around biodiversity hotspots – the Western Ghats and the Himalayas. The so called species-poor regions of peninsular India are home to many Gondwana-relict and ancient lineages of life forms. Our efforts are on to contribute to better understanding the biological diversity in such areas,” he added