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Straight outta Borneo: New gecko species just dropped

  • Scientists have described a new species of bent-toed gecko from Borneo, one of the world’s largest islands.
  • The newly identified gecko is easily distinguished by its physical characteristics, but the researchers call for a study into its molecular genes for further confirmation.
  • The researchers say their findings also underscore the need to focus more attention on uncovering Borneo’s unknown rich biodiversity.

BENGKULU, Indonesia — Scientists have recently described a new species of gecko from Borneo, highlighting the undiscovered rich biodiversity of the world’s third-largest island.

Cyrtodactylus hamidyi, or the Hamidy bent-toed gecko, was introduced to the scientific world in a paper published in August in the journal Zootaxa. Researchers named the gecko after leading Indonesian herpetologist Amir Hamidy, who has himself been prolific in identifying new-to-science species of reptiles and amphibians.

The authors said the new gecko species was easily differentiated from others by the number of its tubercles, its ventral scales, and the presence of pores in the male’s precloacal pit, which are absent in females.

“Further study is needed to reveal its molecular phylogenetic position and biogeographical history,” the paper says.

Collected specimen of Cyrtodactylus hamidyi. Image courtesy of Awal Riyanto et al. (2021).

The researchers — a group of scientists from Indonesia, Japan and the U.S. — had analyzed specimens collected from East Kalimantan, a province in the Indonesian part of Borneo, and Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. They said C. hamidyi is one of four species newly described as part of their wider efforts to gain a better understanding of the complex biodiversity of Borneo.

“The finding has told us to pay more attention to Kalimantan [Indonesian Borneo] in order to reveal more of the Cyrtodactylus diversity,” said lead author Awal Riyanto, a scientist with the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

Borneo is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, where the forests hold tens of thousands of known plant and animal species, and more that are still unidentified. But in the past few decades, wildlife poaching, forest fires and deforestation for logging and industrial plantations have depleted the key ecosystems and animal habitats there.

Collected specimen of Cyrtodactylus hamidyi. Image courtesy of Awal Riyanto et al. (2021).
Collected specimen of Cyrtodactylus hamidyi. Image courtesy of Awal Riyanto et al. (2021).

Citation:

Riyanto, A., Fauzi, M. A., Sidik, I., Mumpuni, Irham, M., Kurniawan, N., … Grismer, L. L. (2021). Another new bent-toed gecko, genus Cyrtodactylus Gray 1837 (Squamata: Gekkonidae), from Borneo. Zootaxa5026(2), 286-300. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.5026.2.8

This story was reported by Mongabay’s Indonesia team and first published here on our Indonesian site on Oct. 22, 2021.

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