‘Slender’ creature seen crawling into wall of restaurant in China. It’s a new species

In a darkened restaurant in southern China, a “slender” creature perched on the wall. A beam of light swept across the room, spooking the “large”-eyed animal.

A flashlight-holding scientist watched the animal crawl into a crevice on the wall — and discovered a new species.

Researchers visited a village of Yunnan Province in 2014 to survey the area’s reptiles and amphibians, according to a study published April 16 in the peer-reviewed journal ZooKeys.

During the nighttime surveys, researchers went inside a restaurant and found six small lizards perched on the wall, the study said.

Researchers captured the animals and, upon taking a closer look, realized they’d discovered a new species: Hemiphyllodactylus gengmaensis, or the Gengma slender gecko.

Gengma slender geckos are considered “small,” measuring about 2.6 inches in length, the study said. The nocturnal lizards have “robust” bodies, “triangular” heads and “large” eyes.

Several preserved Hemiphyllodactylus gengmaensis, or Gengma slender geckos.
Several preserved Hemiphyllodactylus gengmaensis, or Gengma slender geckos.

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Photos show the tannish-brown coloring of several preserved Gengma slender geckos. On their backs, the geckos have “dark-brown stripes that interconnect to form a net-like pattern.”

Gengma slender geckos were found on a restaurant’s “rough,” crevice-filled walls, researchers said. “When illuminated with a flashlight, the animals quickly crawled into the crevices.”

Researchers said they named the new species after the Gengma Dai and Wa Autonomous County area where it was discovered and, so far, the only area where it has been found. This county is in Yunnan Province, about 2,000 miles southwest of Beijing, and along the border with Myanmar.

The new species was identified by its scale pattern, body shape, size and coloring, the study said. DNA analysis found the new species had about 10% genetic divergence from other slender geckos.

The research team included Hongxin Zhou, Shimin Li, Ziqi Shen, Shuo Liu and Dingqi Rao.

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