Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A new gecko: Dixonius taoi

Many geckos love to be around humans. Humans, though, are divided in their attitude toward being around geckos.  Some find these little guys endearing, cute, and entertaining  (I clearly belong to this group) while others find them repulsive, disgusting and scary.

The tails of geckos will fall off if they are attacked by a bird, cat, or irate human.  This is a defensive maneuver meant to distract the predator with a wriggling tidbit while the gecko escapes.  The tails seem to be detachable in different lengths, and although they grow back in a month or two, there is always a faint line at the detachment location.  The regrowth pattern is a characteristic used for individual identification.

The new species from Vietnam was named in honor of a colleague and friend of the authors of the study. Dr. Nguyen Thien Tao from the Vietnam National Museum of Nature in Hanoi is recognized for his scientific contributions towards a better understanding of the herpetofauna of Vietnam.

For the experts: We describe a new species of Dixonius on the basis of five specimens from Phu Quy Island, Binh Thuan Province, in southern Vietnam. The new species can be distinguished from congeners based on molecular and morphological differences. Diagnostic features are: small size (SVL up to 44 mm); 7 or 8 supralabials; 11 or 12 rows of keeled tubercles on dorsum; 21–23 ventral scale rows; 5 or 6 precloacal pores in males; a canthal stripe running from rostrum through the eye and terminating behind the head; second pair of postmentals about one third to one half size of first pair; ground color of dorsum brown, with one or two rows of light yellow or orange spots in one or two rows along flanks, and irregular bands or a reticulated network of dark marks on dorsum. This is the fifth species of Dixonius known to occur in Vietnam.

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