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‘Dwarf’-like creature found at resort in India turns out to be ‘beautiful’ new species

At a wilderness resort in southern India, a “dwarf”-like creature scampered along the walls. The “beautiful” animal caught the attention of visiting scientists — and turned out to be a new species.

Researchers visited a remote resort in Tamil Nadu in April, according to a study published Nov. 17 in the journal Zootaxa.

While there, they found three “beautiful” geckos on the walls and nearby rocks, the study said. Scientists captured the small lizards and, taking a closer look, realized they’d discovered a new species: Cnemaspis sundara, or the sundar dwarf gecko.

Sundar dwarf geckos are considered “small-sized,” reaching about 3 inches in length, researchers said. They have a “relatively slender” body, “long (and) slender” limbs, and pointed spikes intermixed with their scales.

Male and female sundar dwarf geckos differ significantly in color, photos show.

Males have a dark blueish-gray coloring, a photo shows. Their heads are striped and bodies dotted with a blue-tinged white. A thin yellow band runs across their necks while their tails are striped with alternating black and blueish-white bands.

A male Cnemaspis sundara, or sundar dwarf gecko, perched on a rock.
A male Cnemaspis sundara, or sundar dwarf gecko, perched on a rock.

Females, however, have a tannish coloring. Their bodies are speckled with white, black and brown blotches, a photo shows. Their tails have alternating white and brown bands. Only their legs have a slight blue hue.

Researchers described the geckos as “beautiful,” or “sundara” in Sanskrit, and named the new species after this word.

A female Cnemaspis sundara, or sundar dwarf gecko, perched on a rock.
A female Cnemaspis sundara, or sundar dwarf gecko, perched on a rock.

So far, sundar dwarf geckos have been found only at Into the Wild Resort in Tamil Nadu. They live there among rocks and are most active during the day, the study said. The resort is about 1,300 miles south of New Delhi.

The new species was identified by its size, scale pattern and spikes, the study said. DNA analysis found the new species had between about 15% and about 32% genetic divergence from other dwarf geckos.

The research team included Amit Sayyed, Samson Kirubankaran, Rahul Khot, Shiva Harsan, Omkar Adhikari, Ayaan Sayyed, Masum Sayyed, Ahamed Fazil, Ahamed Jerith, Shubhankar Deshpande, Jayaditya Purkayastha and Shauri Sulakhe.

Researchers also discovered a second new species of dwarf gecko on a cashew farm.

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