New Gecko Species Discovered In Odisha’s Ganjam

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Bhubaneswar: A new species of gecko or lizards with a maximum body size of little of over six cm has been discovered by a  team of researchers in a sacred grove near Humma in Ganjam district.

The new species of Hemiphyllodactylus minimus is the smallest member of the genus. Although slender geckos are found at a higher altitude in hill forests, this is the first one from India which is found below 100 metres above mean sea level, reported The New Indian Express (TNIE).

The researchers found the species in a tiny area of 0.01 sq km with about 20 large trees surrounding a temple. The area is part of a flat-top hillock dominated by scrub forest and is within 15 km of the sea coast and Chilika lake, the report added.

 

The new gecko is the seventh Indian species of the genus, second from the northern Eastern Ghats and the 41st globally. It is also the first non-island species of the genus that is distributed in lowland habitats, and the lowest elevation.

Researchers have chosen to call it Ganjam slender gecko. The species feeds on ants, termites, small roaches, spiders and beetles.

 

“Since the locality is under modification due to anthropogenic activities and facing constant anthropogenic pressure in terms of beautification of the temple and tourist activities, we fear the species may go extinct if proper care is not taken. We will soon have a discussion with the local forest officials to preserve the trees and the surroundings,” Dr Pratyush Mohapatra, Scientist-D at the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) was quoted as saying by TNIE.

The researchers, including scientists from Jabalpur-based Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Mumbai-based Thackeray Wildlife Foundation, Assam Don Bosco University and North Orissa University (NoU) have described about the new species in a recent publication in the international journal, Zootaxa.

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