The extremely complex geological history of New Guinea has allowed many of its animals and plants the chance to grow different enough to make a name for themselves. In the case of two newly described and unusually large gecko species - only a noble name would do.
Both new species belong to the world's most diverse gecko genus Cyrtodactylus which comprises more than 200 species known to date. These reptiles are commonly called bent-toed or bow-fingered geckos due to their distinctive slender curved toes. They occur through Asia and Australia.
These 200 species vary greatly in size, build and colouration. However, one of the newly described species, called Cyrtodactyulus rex, meaning "king" in Latin, is with up to 17cm the largest species in the genus, and among the biggest of all geckos in the world. The second new species also bears a noble name -- Cyrtodactyulus equestris, meaning 'knight' in Latin. It is also considered a giant among its relatives with its length of up to 14 cm for the females.
For the experts: The diverse biota of New Guinea includes many nominally widespread species that actually comprise multiple deeply divergent lineages with more localised histories of evolution. Here we investigate the systematics of the very large geckos of the Cyrtodactylus novaeguineae complex using molecular and morphological data. These data reveal two widespread and divergent lineages that can be distinguished from each other, and from type material of Cyrtodactylus novaeguineae, by aspects of size, build, coloration and male scalation. On the basis of these differences we describe two new species. Both have wide distributions that overlap extensively in the foothill forests of the North Papuan Mountains, however one is seemingly restricted to hill and lower montane forests on the ranges themselves, while the other is more widespread throughout the surrounding lowlands. The taxon endemic to the North Papuan Mountains is related to an apparently lowland form currently known only from Waigeo and Batanta Island far to the west – hinting at a history on island arcs that accreted to form the North Papuan Mountains.