Friday 18 September 2020

NOVATAXA: Diminutive Hemiphyllodactylus Bleeker, 1860 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from A Sacred Grove in Odisha, eastern India


[Herpetology • 2020] Hemiphyllodactylus minimus • A Novel, Diminutive Hemiphyllodactylus Bleeker, 1860 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from A Sacred Grove in Odisha, eastern India

Hemiphyllodactylus minimus 
Mohapatra, Khandekar, Dutta, Mahapatra & Agarwal, 2020

We describe distinct new species of Hemiphyllodactylus from a sacred grove near Humma in Ganjam District of Odisha state, eastern India. Hemiphyllodactylus minimus sp. nov. is the smallest member of the genus and can be diagnosed from all peninsular Indian congeners by its small body size (SVL ≤32.2 mm, n=11), having 15–18 dorsal scales and eight or nine ventral scales at mid-body contained within one longitudinal eye diameter, nine or ten precloacal pores separated by 4–6 poreless scales from a series of six or seven femoral pores on each thigh in males, lamellar formula of manus 2222 and of pes 2332 & 2333, as well as subtle colour pattern differences. Additionally, the new species is 16.0–22.7 % divergent from all other peninsular Indian Hemiphyllodactylus in uncorrected ND2 sequence data. The new species is the first member of the genus described from Odisha state and also the first Hemiphyllodactylus known from < 100 m asl. The discovery of Hemiphyllodactylus minimus sp. nov. from a low elevation coastal locality in the Eastern Ghats open ups the possibilities that the genus could be more widespread than currently understood and potentially harbour many more distinct undescribed lineages. Therefore, dedicated fine-scale sampling efforts are needed to uncover the true diversity and distribution of Hemiphyllodactylus in the region.

Keywords: Reptilia, Biogeography, conservation, northern Eastern Ghats, taxonomy

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