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A new species of gecko described for Arabia

A new species of gecko described for Arabia

Dr. Raquel Vasconcelos1,2 & Dr. Salvador Carranza2

1 CIBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, InBIO Laboratório Associado, Universidade do Porto, Portugal
2 Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Barcelona, Spain


A new species of gecko with the scientific name Hemidactylus minutus was described from Oman and extreme eastern Yemen. On July the researchers Dr. Raquel Vasconcelos and Dr. Salvador Carranza published a study that demonstrates that this small-size gecko of the genus Hemidactylus that lives in Oman and continental Yemen is different from the Arabian leaf-toed gecko from Socotra archipelago. This species is characterized morphologically by its very small size, and that is why is scientific name is H. minutus as it is the smallest Hemidactylus in mainland Arabia. It also presents differences on scales of the body and toes, and on the tail pattern, and is genetically distinct from the species to it has previously been referred, H. homoeolepis. Up to now, H. homoeolepis was the only non-endemic native species of Socotra archipelago. With the description of this new species, all native reptile species of Socotra are now unique, such that this archipelago has one with the highest number of endemic reptiles in relation to its small size. As a result of this change, the range of H. homoeolepis¸ now occurring only in Socotra, was dramatically reduced and thus its conservation status should be updated. Also, with this new addition, Oman’s checklist of terrestrial reptiles now includes 91 species, 13 of which are not found anywhere else in the world (are endemic to the country).

The description of this new species is the result of more than 10 years of work of the group led by Dr. Carranza that is based at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, Spain. Dr. Carranza has been carrying out research on reptile fauna in Arabia since 2004. Recently, the projects “Field study for the conservation of the reptiles of Oman”, funded by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, was launched ( and grants from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Spain, co-funded by FEDER (CGL2012-36970) and Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (SFRH/BPD/79913/2011) were conceded. This allowed, also with the support of the Environmental Protection Agency, Socotra branch from the Ministry of Water & Environment of Yemen (EPA), the researchers to do fieldwork in Oman and Socotra and gather more data on the reptile species that live in Arabia. With this new information, Vasconcelos and Carranza were able to describe the new species from coastal Oman and eastern Yemen, circumscribe with precision its distribution, and emphasize the conservation importance of Socotran reptiles. As this work is still ongoing, the description of new species for Arabia and production of important information for conservation management should follow.


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Credits for the photo: SALVADOR CARRANZA

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