Thursday 17 March 2016

Cyrtodactylus petani: A new species of Bent-toed Gecko from East Java.

Bent-toed Geckos of the genus Cyrtodactylus are found across much of Southeast Asia. Recent studies have revealed the group to contain many cryptic species (species which closely resemble other species and which can only be differentiated by close morphological examination or genetic analysis), which has revealed that many long established species within the group are in fact species groups made up of several similar but genetically distinct species. To date all members of the genus from Java have been referred to two species, Cyrtodactylus fumosus and Cyrtodactylus marmoratus, though it has been suspected for some time that this may not reflect the true diversity of the genus on the island.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 22 December 2015, Awal Riyanto of the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense of The IndonesianInstitute of Sciences, Lee Grismer of the Department of Biology at LaSierra University and Perry Wood of the Department of Biology at Brigham Young University, describe a new species of Cyrtodactylus from East Java.

The new species is named Cyrtodactylus petani, where 'petani' means 'farmer' in Indonesian; the specimens from which the species is described having lived on farmland. The populations from which the species is described were previously assigned to Cyrtodactylus fumosus, and are similar, though the species can be differentiated by physical examination; Cyrtodactylus petani being slightly shorter and having a different pattern of scales. The animals have a camouflaged pattern, with brown, black and yellowish scales forming bands along the back and a lighter underside. The species was found in a number of habitats, including embankments in paddy fields, rocks and trees in farm gardens, rocks on a dry riverbed, artificial (cement) riverbanks and trees in teak woodland, though always close to the ground. The species is clearly highly adaptable, and able to colonise disturbed, man-made environments as well as natural ones.

Cyrtodactylus petani, male speciemen from Jeladri Village in Pasuruan District, East Java. Riyanto et al. (2015).

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