Nineteen New Species of Gecko Found in Just One Small Area

Khryss | Published 2017-10-10 13:21

What do you call a gecko with great patterns? A rad-tile.

Asked to explore an area in Myanmar by the charity Fauna & Flora International, Lee Grismer of La Sierra University in California and team first found the 15 new gecko species (together with snakes and frogs) in 2016. “It was fricking crazy, man,” says Grismer. “In 19 days we found 23 new species.”

And now, that number jumped up as they turned out to find more. “If you count the four I’m looking at right now it’s [already] 19,” he says.

And while that seems not much for you, it is actually a big increase for these creatures. Today, there are only about 1500 known species of these lizards; so this is something researchers should be really excited about.

Add it up with the fact that the new species found all live in the same area which is just by 50 kilometres in size. “That’s the really amazing thing about it,” says Grismer. “They all come from such a small area.”

Finding closely-related species of backboned animal in just one area is actually uncommon, says Grismer. “For lizards, it is remarkable.”

This unusual occurrence may have something to do with its unique landscape. This flat lowland area has around 400 metres high limestone blocks. These could be evolutionary islands that enabled isolated geckos to evolve into separate species with longer legs and toes, and more slender bodies.

What's more surprising is while most of these new species belong to a large genus collectively known as bent-toed geckos, there were three species of dwarf gecko found, which usually lives only on cloudy mountaintops. For a more formal description, you can go wait for these  two papers being published over the coming weeks.

Hey! Where are you going?? Subscribe!

Get weekly science updates in your inbox!