New gecko species found in Vietnam

By Minh Nga   July 4, 2023 | 05:53 pm PT
New gecko species found in Vietnam
The Hemiphyllodactylus cattien found at Cat Tien National Park in southern Vietnam. Photo by Joint Vietnam-Russia Tropical Science and Technology Research Center
Scientists have found a new species of slender gecko in the lowland monsoon forest of Cat Tien National Park in southern Vietnam.

As announced by the Joint Vietnam – Russia Tropical Science and Technology Research Center, the new gecko is named Hemiphyllodactylus cattien.

A group of scientists, Nikolay A. Poyarkov, Platon Yushchenko, Lee Grismer, Andrey Bragin, and Le Xuan Dac, announced their findings in a study published June 23 in the journal Zootaxa, a peer-reviewed scientific mega journal for animal taxonomists.

The Cat Tien slender gecko has a "triangular" head and "unsheathed" claws.

Its body is a "wheat-gray" color with "dark-brown and white" speckles. Including its ashy gray regenerated tail, the gecko is about 2 inches long, the study said.

Researchers were able to identify the new species as distinct based on its body shape and DNA.

DNA analysis found the new species had between 20% and 24% genetic divergence from other known geckos.

According to the Vietnam – Russian Tropical Center, the gecko was found in 2021 on a tree branch around 1.5 m from the ground in a primary forest along a trail leading to Bau Sau Lake.

Although efforts have been made to collect more specimens of this species with many in-depth surveys along the trail to Bau Sau Lake, researchers have so far found only one specimen and therefore, the number of individuals of the species is a mystery.

Cat Tien National Park lies 150 km northeast of HCMC.

Spanning 72,000 hectares over Dong Nai, Binh Phuoc and Lam Dong Province, it is one of nine UNESCO-recognized World Biosphere Reserves in Vietnam.

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