Master of Disguise – Scientists have discovered a new ‘mysterious’ species of leaf-tailed gecko
An international team of scientists has identified and named a new species of leaf-tailed gecko from northern Madagascar, known as Europlatus jaramasu.
Leaf-tailed geckos are masters of camouflage. some Classify They have folds of skin around the entire body and head, complemented by flattened tails. During the day, they rest with their heads down on tree trunks with these skin flaps spread out, blending seamlessly into their surroundings and making them almost invisible. As night falls, they come to life, moving among the slender branches of lower plants in search of invertebrate prey.
“When we first discovered this species in 2000, we already suspected that it might be new to science,” says Dr. Frank Glau, Curator of Herpetology at the Bavarian State Zoological Collection, and lead author of the study. “But it took us many years to gather enough information to confidently describe it as a new species.”
The team collected data on the genetics, morphology and distribution of the species. Several expeditions to northern Madagascar have been undertaken to expand knowledge of this new species. This discovery was recently announced in the open access scientific journal Salamander.
One of the challenges was that Europlatus jaramasu Very similar to another type, Europlatus hinkeliiHe has been confused about this in the past. “This is very common for reptiles from Madagascar,” explains Dr. Jörn Köhler from the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt. “There are a lot of so-called ‘mysterious species’, which are waiting for taxonomic treatment.”
Through careful analysis, the authors were able to find some features that distinguish the two species. “The real key was discovering that the tip of the tongue is black U Hinkellywhile its color is pink Yu Garamasusays Dr. Philipp Sebastian Gehring from Bielefeld University in Germany. The new species is 20 cm long, and is slightly smaller than… U HinkellyIt has a narrower tail.
“The new species is the latest in a new series Europlatus “Geckos from Madagascar have been described over the past few years,” says Dr. Vanomizana Ratsovina of the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar, who completed her PhD in leaf-tailed gecko science.
“We are close to completing the taxonomic inventory of the genus, but this is just the beginning of our understanding of their evolution and ecology,” says Dr. Mark Scheers, curator of herpetology and amphibians at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. “Mouth color, which has been so useful in identifying different species, has a completely unknown function. There is a lot we don’t yet know about these geckos, from their broader evolutionary relationships to their behavior.”
Reference: “New large-bodied species of leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus) from northern Madagascar” by Glaw, F., J. Köhler, F. M. Ratsoavina, A. P. Raselimanana, A. Crottini, P.-S. Gehring, W. Boehm, M. D. Scheers and M. Fences, August 15, 2023, Salamander.
The study was funded by the Science and Technology Foundation.