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Cyrtodactylus jambangan endemic to the Philippines from L. Welton

Zamboanga peninsula and the island of Sulu

A team composed of researchers from the Natural History Museum & Biodiversity Institute in Kansas and the National Museum of the Philippines has described a new species of bent-toed gekkonid lizard (Genus: Cyrtodactylus) from southwestern Mindanao Island, and northeastern portions of the Sulu Archipelago in their recent paper in Zootaxa[1].

The new species is called Cyrtodactylus jambangan. The name Jambangan comes from the ancient name of  Zamboanga which means ‘the land of flowers’, because most of the specimen are found in the peninsula.

Cyrtodactylus jambangan differs from other species of Cyrtodactylus by the following characters:
  • small body size
  • dorsum darkly marbled lavender and brown or brown with indistinct wavy lavender blotches
  • presence of bright yellow superciliaries, canthal stripe, and dorsal tubercles
  • low dorsal scale counts (as measured by midbody dorsal and paravertebral scales
  • moderate numbers of midbody dorsal tubercle rows
  • absence of femoral pores in both sexes
  • presence of precloacal pores in males and similarly enlarged, dimpled, scales in females, arranged in an inverted “V”-shaped configuration
  • moderately depressed precloacal groove
  • scales anterior to precloacal region undifferentiated
  • lamellae under Finger III 17–22
  • lamellae under Toe IV 20–24
  • supralabials to beneath eye 8–11
  • infralabials to beneath the eye 6–8
  • absence of stripes connecting the lateral margins of transverse bands on trunk
  • midbody ventral scales 48–63

Preferred phylogenic estimate from Welton

Moreover, three major monophyletic mitochondrial lineages were recovered in different gecko specimens from the southern Philippines and Palawan according to the authors.  One of these is also a new species (C. tautbatorum, 2009). The others are divergence of the same branch which contains the C. annulatus and the new species,  C. jambangan.  This strongly indicates that C. jambangan is a different species. The authors are confident of their phylogenic estimates.

Low and mid-elevations in riparian habitats (gallery forests) along streams are the most common places in which the new species can be found.

The new species are probably not threatened by forest disturbance said the authors.  They also described them as one of the most common gecko in the area.

The new species is the 6th endemic Cyrtodactylus from the Philippines.  There could be more according to the authors because of the islands’ geography.  As of 2009, there are approximately 115 species of Cyrtodactylus worldwide.

[1] L. Welton, C. Siler, A. Diesmos, and R. Brown, Phylogeny-based species delimitation of southern Philippines bent-toed geckos and a new species of Cyrtodactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago,  Zootaxa 2390: 49–68 (2010).
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