Thursday 28 June 2012

The Kandyan House Gecko; not extinct after all.

In 1853 Lieutenant Colonel Edward Frederick Kelaart (1819-1860) of the Ceylon Medical Service published a study of the fauna of Sri Lanka entitled Prodromus fauna Zeylanica,  in which he described (amongst other things) a description of a House Gecko from Kandy in the centre of the island, the ancient royal capitol, which he named Hemidactylus pieresii. For almost 160 years no more was heard of H. pieresii, and scientists have assumed the species to be lost.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 28 June 2012, Sudesh Batuwita of the Institute of Fundamental Studies and the Wildlife Conservation Society Biodiversity Research and Education Center at Hiyare Reservoir and Rohan Pethiyagoda of the Australian Museum, announce the rediscovery of Hemidactylus pieresii, during a study of the island's snakes and lizards commissioned by the Wildlife Heritage Trust of Sri Lanka

Batuwita & Pethiyagoda found the Geckos at Kandy and a number of other sights in the southeast of the island. They conclude that the species has not been missing, but rather has been widely identified as the closely related H. depressus.

Preserved specimen of Hemidactylus pieresii, the Kandyan House Gecko. Batuwita & Pethiyagoda (2012).

Hemidactylus depressus in lifeBatuwita & Pethiyagoda (2012). 

Map of Sri Lanka showing the original location where Hemidactylus pieresii was discovered (red square), the new locations where Hemidactylus pieresii was found (black squares) and the locations where Hemidactylus depressus was found. Batuwita & Pethiyagoda (2012).

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