The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.
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Authors: Rachunliu G. Kamei & Stephen Mahony
Abstract: Recent taxonomic and systematic research on Cyrtodactylus khasiensis has found that this nomen comprises a large number of superficially similar but deeply divergent species-level taxa from throughout north-east India and surrounding countries. In this study we focus on the taxonomic status of recently surveyed populations from the East Garo Hills and West Garo Hills districts and a single specimen collected from Ri Bhoi District in Meghalaya State, north-east India. Based on a combination of morphological and molecular data we found that the Ri Bhoi specimen is conspecific with the recently described C. urbanus, and that the Garo Hills populations represent a new species of Cyrtodactylus described herein. Molecular analyses (using the NADH dehydrogenase 2, nd2 and adjoining tRNA genes) demonstrate that the new species is nested within the khasiensis group of the Indo-Burma radiation of Cyrtodactylus, and is well-supported as sister to a clade that comprises C. septentrionalis and C. guwahatiensis. We morphologically compare the new C. urbanus specimen with the original description of the species, identify a number of errors and ambiguities in the original description, and notably expand the known morphological variation for the species based on 23 characters. The discovery of an endemic new species of lizards from the Garo Hills further highlights the region as an overlooked centre of biodiversity importance. We discuss several misidentifications in the literature of other reptile species from the region emphasising the need for further attention by taxonomists to review the herpetofauna of the Garo Hills.
Keywords: Biodiversity, taxonomy, lizard, reptile, endemic