In the depths of Tamil Nadu, a wilderness resort, a captivating creature has caught the attention of visiting scientists. This “dwarf-like” being, with its mesmerizing appearance, turned out to be an entirely new species. The remarkable discovery unfolded in April but was only recently published in Zootaxa.
The researchers, drawn by the allure of this remote resort, embarked on an expedition to unravel the mysteries of its wildlife. To their astonishment, they stumbled upon three exquisite geckos adorning the walls and nearby rocks. Intrigued, they meticulously captured the elegant lizards for closer examination. Then, the truth dawned upon them: they had discovered a brand-new species, the Cnemaspis Sundara, or the Sundar Dwarf Gecko.
The Sundar Dwarf Geckos, characterized by their petite size of approximately three inches long, possess a gracefully slender body and long, delicate limbs. Their scales are adorned with pointed spikes, adding a touch of grandeur to their appearance. Yet, it is their striking coloration that truly sets them apart.
The male and female Sundar Dwarf Geckos have stark differences in their coloring, as revealed in stunning photographs. Males boast a dark blueish-gray hue, with striped heads and bodies adorned with a blue-tinged white. A thin yellow band gracefully encircles their necks, while their tails are adorned with alternating black and blueish-white bands.
In contrast, the females possess a more subdued tannish coloring, their bodies sprinkled with captivating white, black, and brown blotches. Adorned with alternating white and brown bands, their tails captivate the eye. Only their legs bear a hint of the males’ enchanting blue hue.
The scientists were captivated by the geckos’ beauty, thus aptly naming the new species “Sundara,” derived from the Sanskrit word meaning beautiful. These extraordinary creatures have only been spotted within the confines of the Into the Wild Resort, a secluded paradise approximately 1,300 miles south of New Delhi. The study revealed that they inhabit the rocky terrain, and most of their activity occurs during the daytime.
The identification of the Sundar Dwarf Geckos as a new species is based on their distinct size, scale pattern, and spiked features. Furthermore, DNA analysis unveiled a genetic divergence of approximately 15 percent to 32 percent from other dwarf gecko species, solidifying their unique place in the animal kingdom.
The team of dedicated researchers, including Samson Kirubankaran, Amit Sayyed, Rahul Khot, Omkar Adhikari, Shiva Harsan, Masum Sayyed, Ayaan Sayyed, Ahamed Fazil, Shubhankar Deshpande Ahamed Jerith, Jayaditya Purkayastha, and Shauri Sulakhe, contributed to this momentous discovery. Their passion and unwavering commitment to scientific exploration have shed light on the hidden wonders of our planet.