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ResearchBlogging.org

Sometimes, it pays to have a second look.

Two lizards are recently identified as new species in two separate publications by a group of Herpetologists from the Philippines and the University of Kansas [1,2,3]. These are the Luperosaurus angliit, or the Little Forest-flap Gecko of Northern Luzon, and the Gekko coi, Leonard’s Forest Gecko of Sibuyan Island.

Luperosaurus angliit (left) vs Luperosaurus cumingii (right). Courtesy: R. Brown, et al, Journal of Herpetology, 45 (2011).

Luperosaurus angliit, or the Little Forest-flap Gecko

This lizard has always been confused with its larger counterpart, Luperosaurus cumingii. The authors said, “Previous workers have considered these smaller size class individuals to be immature representatives of L. cumingii but close examination reveals many of the relevant specimens to be adults with mature testes in males and fully formed oviducts with mature eggs in females [1].”

Luperosaurus angliit  (left) vs Luperosaurus cumingii (right). Courtesy: R. Brown, et al, Journal of Herpetology, 45 (2011).

The new species is distinguished from all species of Luperosaurus by (1) its relatively small, slender body; (2) reduced interdigital webbing; (3) reduced cutaneous expansions bordering the limbs; (4) absence of ventrolateral body tubercles; (5) absence of spinose tubercles on edges of
cutaneous expansions ordering the limbs; (6) the presence of only a few ventrolateral tubercles on the caudal margin of each tail whorl; (7) postrictal and nuchal tubercles absent; (8) precloacofemorals 17–19; (9) relatively low numbers of supralabials and infralabials; and (10) low subdigital scansors counts [1].

The new flap-legged gecko can be found from the Sierra Madre Mountains of eastern Luzon and Camiguin Norte Island, just off the north coast of Luzon. Since the specimens of this new gecko were used to be part of  the L. cummigii specimens, the range of L. cummigii has now been reduced to the forests of the Bicol peninsula.

Luperosaurus are rare according to the authors. They suggest that “Luperosaurus may have evolved to specialize on mature coastal or beach forests”. Hence, its rarity is due to the decimation of these forests in the Philippines. They also say that most Luperosaurus species may be severely threatened.

With the new description of the Luperosaurus angliit, the Philippines has 8 of the 13 species of the genus.

Gekko coi, Leonard’s Forest Gecko

Gekko coi, Leonard’s Forest Gecko.  Courtesy: Brown et al, Herpetologica 67 (2012)

This forest gecko, named after Leonard Co, can only be found in Sibuyan Island. This increases the number of endemic Gekko in the Philippines to 10.

Gekko coi differs from all other species of Philippine Gekko in having the following combination of diagnostic traits: (1) moderately large body size (snout–vent length [SVL] 65.2–84.0 for adult males, 72.1–77.1 mm for females); (2) dorsum medium brown to gray, with single row of alternating light (cream) and dark (dark brown) vertebral blotches; (3) high numbers of dorsal body scales (107–132) transverse midbody scales, 192–226 paravertebrals); (4) relatively few rows of conical body tubercles (13–15 midbody, 25–28 paravertebrally; (5) precloacofemorals in a continuous series (precloacals and femoral pore-bearing scale series distinctly differentiated but abutting with no undifferentiated scales interrupting the two series) of 86–92 differentiated, greatly enlarged (precloacals) to only slightly enlarged (femorals) scales.[2]

According to the authors, this gecko is genetically closest to its nearest gecko neighbor, Gekko romblon which is found in Tablas and Romblon Islands.  This agrees with geological evidence. The separation of the islands provided the isolation of the common ancestor of these Geckos. Sibuyan Island was never connected to any other landmasses while Tablas and Romblon islands had some brief connections during their geological history. Hence, the Sibuyan Gecko evolved into a separate species.

Similar to the Luperosaurus, the author says, “the current revision of the taxonomy of these species affects their conservation status.”

GALLERY

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[1] Brown, R., Diesmos, A., & Oliveros, C. (2011). New Flap-Legged Forest Gecko (Genus Luperosaurus) from the Northern Philippines Journal of Herpetology, 45 (2), 202-210 DOI: 10.1670/10-123.1

[2] Brown, R., Siler, C., Oliveros, C., Diesmos, A., & Alcala, A. (2011). A New Gekko from Sibuyan Island, Central Philippines Herpetologica, 67 (4), 460-476 DOI: 10.1655/HERPETOLOGICA-D-11-00025.1

[3] A. Alcala is with the Angelo King Center for Research and Environmental Management; R. Brown is with the Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas; A. Diesmos is with the National Museum of the Philippines; C. Oliveros is with Isla Biodiversity Conservation, and the Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas;  C.Siler is with he Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas.

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