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New gecko species discovered in India named after Van Gogh

A colorful gecko found in southern India has been named after the famous painter Vincent Van Gogh. This new gecko species,

By Ground report
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New gecko species discovered in India named after Van Gogh

A colorful gecko found in southern India has been named after the famous painter Vincent Van Gogh. This new gecko species, called Cnemaspis vangoghi, has a striking yellow-gold body with light blue spots and lines on its back and head, resembling the vibrant swirls in Van Gogh's painting "The Starry Night."

Researchers from the Thackeray Wildlife Foundation in India discovered and described this gecko in a recent study published in the journal ZooKeys. They also identified another gecko species, Cnemaspis sathuragiriensis, named after the Sathuragiri Hills where it lives, published their findings last month in ZooKeys, a peer-reviewed scientific journal for zoological taxonomy, phylogeny, and biogeography.

Cnemaspis vangoghi: New gecko family member

Geckos, small to medium-sized lizards in the Gekkonidae family, have remarkable climbing abilities due to specialized toe pads that enable them to stick to smooth surfaces like walls and ceilings.

These lizards are widespread in warm climates worldwide and are known for their vocalizations used for communication. Many gecko species are active at night, relying on their large, sensitive eyes for low-light vision.

Geckos are also famous for their tail regeneration ability, a defense mechanism against predators. The Van Gogh's Starry dwarf gecko, named after the painter Vincent Van Gogh, prefers rocky areas and is most active during cooler parts of the day. It shares its discovery limelight with the Cnemaspis sathuragiriensis, named after the Sathuragiri Hills where it was found.

A top contender for "world's artsiest lizard" title. Photo Credit: ISHAN AGARWAL

Cnemaspis vangoghi is named for Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh (1853–1890) as the striking colouration of the new species is reminiscent of one of his most iconic paintings, The Starry Night,” explains Ishan Agarwal, part of the team that discovered and described the new lizard.

“Tamil Nadu is an exceptionally biodiverse state and we expect to name well over 50 new species of lizards by the time we are done ,” Agarwal said in a blog post about the find.

A research team including Akshay Khandekar, Tejas Thackeray, Swapnil Pawar, Ishan Agarwal, Satpal Gangalmale, and Vivek Waghe published their findings in ZooKeys, a journal focusing on zoological taxonomy and biogeography. Agarwal highlighted Tamil Nadu's biodiversity, suggesting more new lizard species discoveries are likely from ongoing expeditions.

Meet the (other) gecko in town

A unique lizard species reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh's famous painting "The Starry Night" has been discovered in southern India. Named Cnemaspis vangoghi, after the legendary artist, this gecko's striking appearance with yellow-gold and light blue hues echoes the vivid swirls in the painting.

Van Gogh's Starry dwarf gecko, as it's commonly known, is small, growing up to about 1.5 inches long. Unlike many gecko species, these lizards are active during the day, often found on rocks and tree trunks during cooler hours.

Researchers discovered the Thackeray Wildlife Foundation during expeditions in Tamil Nadu. Ishan Agarwal, part of the team, notes Tamil Nadu's rich biodiversity, expecting to discover more than 50 new lizard species. Agarwal's team encountered numerous challenges, including tick bites during their exploration, highlighting their dedication to scientific discovery.

These geckos are not just fascinating due to their association with Van Gogh but also for their ecological significance. They play a crucial role in their ecosystem, showcasing the importance of protecting even the most localized species for environmental balance.

The discovery of Cnemaspis vangoghi hints at many more unknown wonders waiting to be uncovered, inspiring scientists to delve deeper into nature's mysteries and preserve its living artworks.

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