Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer
Type: Article
Published: 2019-08-27
Page range: 40–64
Abstract views: 148
PDF downloaded: 72

The discovery of Rock Geckos Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) in the Tanintharyi Region, Myanmar with the description of two new species

Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013, USA College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, 20742 USA
Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013, USA Department of Biology, University of North Carolina Asheville, Asheville, North Carolina 28804, USA
Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013, USA
Global Genome Initiative, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 20013, USA. 
Taxonomy lizards Southeast Asia biodiversity Reptilia morphology


We report the first occurrence of the Asian Rock Gecko genus Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 from mainland Myanmar based on a series of specimens recently collected from the Tanintharyi Region. These records come from several localities in the Tanintharyi Region and fill a significant sampling gap for the genus. Molecular phylogenetic analyses using the mitochondrial gene ND2 identify two distinct clades, the first includes Cnemaspis siamensis of the Southeast Asian Cnemaspis group and the second includes two new species belonging to the South Asian Cnemaspis kandiana group. These two species are morphologically distinct and are distinguished from all other members in the C. kandiana group by a combination of character states. The first species, Cnemaspis tanintharyi sp. nov. occurs on the mainland in southern Tanintharyi and is distinguished from all congeners by the possession of keeled pectoral scales; smooth ventral scales and abdominal scales; 2–4 precloacal pores; 4–5 femoral pores on each leg; smooth subcaudal scales with the median row enlarged; coloration of the gular region beige, dark gray-brown with dark blue hueing towards throat; 15–18 subdigital lamellae on the 4th toe; and 21–23 ventral scales at midbody. The other, Cnemaspis thayawthadangyi sp. nov. is known only from the island group of Thayawthadangyi, in the Myeik Archipelago and is distinguished from all congeners by the possession of keeled pectoral scales; keeled ventral scales and abdominal scales; three precloacal pores; four femoral pores on each leg; smooth subcaudal scales, scales on median row enlarged; coloration of the gular region silver with dark-gray irregularly shaped streaks; 16–18 subdigital lamellae on the 4th toe; and 18–20 ventral scales at midbody. In addition, we address the taxonomic status of populations referred to as C. kandiana (a species now restricted to Sri Lanka) found in peninsular Thailand and provisionally assign them as C. cf. tanintharyi sp. nov. until further analysis can be conducted. Finally, we briefly discuss the biogeography of the South Asian clade of Cnemaspis.


  1. Agarwal, I., Biswas, S., Bauer, A.M., Greenbaum, E., Jackman, T.R., de Silva, A. & Batuwita, S. (2017) Cryptic species, taxonomic inflation, or a bit of both? New species phenomenon in Sri Lanka as suggested by a phylogeny of dwarf geckos (Reptilia, Squamata, Gekkonidae, Cnemaspis). Systematics and Biodiversity, 15 (5), 427–439.

    Amarasinghe, A.T., Harvey, M.B., Riyanto, A. & Smith, E.N. (2015) A new species of Cnemaspis (Reptilia: Gekkonidae) from Sumatra, Indonesia. Herpetologica, 71 (2), 160–167.

    Annandale, N. (1905) Notes on some Oriental Geckoes in the Indian Museum, Calcutta, with the Description of New Forms. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 7, 15, 26–32.

    Bauer, A.M., de Silva, A., Greenbaum, E. & Jackman, T. (2007) A new species of day gecko from high elevation in Sri Lanka, with a preliminary phylogeny of Sri Lankan Cnemaspis (Reptilia, Squamata, Gekkonidae). Mitteilungen aus dem Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Zoologische Reihe, 83 (Supplement 1), 22–32.

    Chan-ard, T., Parr, J.W.K. & Nabhitabhata, J. (2015) A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Thailand. Oxford University Press, Oxford, xxix + 314 pp.

    Connette, G.M., Oswald, P., Thura, M.K., Connette, K.J.L., Grindley, M.E., Songer, M., Zug, G.R. & Mulcahy, D.G. (2017) Rapid forest clearing in a Myanmar proposed national park threatens two newly discovered species of geckos (Gekkonidae: Cyrtodactylus). PloS One, 12 (4), e0174432.

    Das, I. (2005) Revision of the genus Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Sauria: Gekkonidae), from the Mentawai and adjacent archipelagos off western Sumatra, Indonesia, with the description of four new species. Journal of Herpetology, 39 (2), 233–247.

    Das, I. & Leong, T.M. (2004) A new species of Cnemaspis (Sauria: Gekkonidae) from southern Thailand. Current Herpetology, 23 (2), 63–71.

    De Queiroz, K. (1998) The general lineage concept of species, species criteria, and the process of speciation: a conceptual unification and terminological recommendation. In: Howard, D.J. & Berlocher, S.H. (Eds.), Endless Forms, Species and Speciation. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 57–75.

    Duméril, A.M.C. & Bibron, G. (1836) Érpetologie Générale, ou Histoire Naturelle Compléte des Reptiles. Tome Troisième. Libraire Encyclopédique de Roret, Paris, (2), (1), iv + 571 pp., errata, 2 folding tables, pls. 25–28 + 33 + 35 + 43–48.

    Dring, J.C.M. (1979) Amphibians and reptiles from northern Trengganau, Malaysia, with descriptions of two new geckos: Cnemaspis and Cyrtodactylus. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Zoology, 34 (5), 181–241.

    Gamble, T., Greenbaum, E., Jackman, T.R., Russell, A.P. & Bauer, A.M. (2012) Repeated origin and loss of adhesive toepads in geckos. PLoS One, 7 (6), e39429.

    Giri, V.B., Agarwal, I. & Bauer, A.M. (2010) Designation of a neotype for Cnemaspis mysoriensis (Jerdon 1853) (Sauria: Gekkonidae), with a redescription and notes on its distribution and habitat. Russian Journal of Herpetology, 16 (4), 256–264.

    Gower, D.J., Vidal, N., Spinks, J.N. & McCarthy, C.J. (2005) The phylogenetic position of Anomochilidae (Reptilia: Serpentes): first evidence from DNA sequences. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 43 (4), 315–320.

    Grismer, J.L., Schulte, J.A., Alexander, A., Wagner, P., Travers, S.L., Buehler, M.D., Welton, L.J. & Brown, R.M. (2016) The Eurasian invasion: phylogenomic data reveal multiple Southeast Asian origins for Indian Dragon Lizards. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 16 (1), 43.

    Grismer, L.L., Sumontha, M., Cota, M., Grismer, J.L., Wood, Jr.P.L., Pauwels, O.S. & Kunya, K. (2010) A revision and redescription of the rock gecko Cnemaspis siamensis (Taylor 1925) (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Peninsular Thailand with descriptions of seven new species. Zootaxa, 2576 (1), 1–55.

    Grismer, L.L., Wood, Jr.P.L., Anuar, S., Riyanto, A., Ahmad, N., Muin, M.A., Sumontha, M., Grismer, J.L., Onn, C.K., Quah, E.S.H. & Pauwels, O.S.G. (2014) Systematics and natural history of Southeast Asian Rock Geckos (genus Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887) with descriptions of eight new species from Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. Zootaxa, 3880 (1), 1–147.

    Grismer, L.L., Wood, Jr. P.L., Thura, M.K., Zin, T., Quah, E.S., Murdoch, M.L., Grismer, M.S., Li, A., Kyaw, H. & Lwin, N. (2017a) Phylogenetic taxonomy of Hemiphyllodactylus Bleeker, 1860 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) with descriptions of three new species from Myanmar. Journal of Natural History, 52 (13–16), 881–915.

    Grismer, L.L., Wood, Jr. P.L., Thura, M.K., Zin, T., Quah, E.S.H., Murdoch, M.L., Grismer, M.S., Li, A., Kyaw, H. & Ngwe, L. (2017b) Twelve new species of Cyrtodactylus Gray (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from isolated limestone habitats in east-central and southern Myanmar demonstrate high localized diversity and unprecedented microendemism. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 182, 862–959.

    Grismer, L.L., Wood, Jr. P.L., Quah, E.S.H., Thura, M.K., Espinoza, R.E., Grismer, M.S., Murdoch, M.L. & Lin, A. (2018a) A new species of Crocodile Newt Tylototriton (Caudata: Salamandridae) from Shan State, Myanmar (Burma). Zootaxa, 4500 (4), 553–573.

    Grismer, L.L., Wood, Jr. P.L., Thura, M.K., Quah, E.S.H., Murdoch, M.L., Grismer, M.S., Herr, M. W., Lin, A. & Kyaw, H. (2018b) Three more new species of Cyrtodactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Salween Basin of eastern Myanmar underscore the urgent need for the conservation of karst habitats. Journal of Natural History, 52 (19–20), 1243–1294.

    Grismer, L., Wood, Jr., P.L., Zug, G.R., Thura, M.K., Grismer, M.S., Murdoch, M.L., Quah, E.S. & Lin, A. (2018c) Two more new species of Hemiphyllodactylus Bleeker (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Shan Hills of eastern Myanmar (Burma). Zootaxa, 4483 (2), 295–316.

    Grismer, L.L, & Davis, H.R. (2018) Phylogeny and biogeography of bent-toed geckos (Cyrtodactylus Gray) of the Sundaic swamp clade. Zootaxa, 4472 (2), 365–374.

    Harikrishnan, S., Vasudevan, K. & Choudhury, B.C. (2010) A review of herpetofaunal descriptions and studies from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with an updated checklist. In: Ramakrishna, R.C. & Sivaperuman, C. (Eds.), Recent Trends in Biodiversity of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata, pp. 387–398.

    Harikrishnan, S., Vasudevan, K., de Silva, A., Deepak, V., Kar, N.B., Naniwadekar, R., Lalremruta, A., Prasoona, K.R. & Agarwal, R.K. (2012) Phylogeography of Dasia Gray, 1830 (Reptilia: Scincidae) with description of a new species from Southern India. Zootaxa, 3233, 37–51

    Iskandar, D.T., McGuire, J.A. & Amarasinghe, A.T. (2017) Description of five new day geckos of Cnemaspis kandiana group (Sauria: Gekkonidae) from Sumatra and Mentawai Archipelago, Indonesia. Journal of Herpetology, 51 (1), 142–153.

    Katoh, K., Misawa, K., Kuma, K.I. & Miyata, T. (2002) MAFFT: a novel method for rapid multiple sequence alignment based on fast Fourier transform. Nucleic Acids Research, 30 (14), 3059–3066.

    Katoh, K. & Standley, D.M. (2013) MAFFT multiple sequence alignment software version 7: Improvements in performance and usability. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 30, 772–780.

    Kelaart, E.F. (1852) Prodromus Faunae Zeylanicae; Being Contributions to the Zoology of Ceylon. Volume 1. Privately Published, Colombo, xxxiii + 197 + 54 + (3) pp.

    Klaus, S., Schubart, C.D., Streit, B. & Pfenninger, M. (2010) When Indian crabs were not yet Asian-biogeographic evidence for Eocene proximity of India and Southeast Asia. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 10 (1), 287.

    Kumar, S., Stecher, G. & Tamura, K. (2016) MEGA7: Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis version 7.0 for bigger datasets. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 33, 1870–1874.

    Lee, J.L., Thura, M.K., Mulcahy, D.G. & Zug, G.R. (2015) Three colubrid snakes new to Myanmar. Herpetology Notes, 8, 217–220.

    Lee, J.L., Miller, A.H., Connette, G.M., Oo, K.S., Zug, G.R. & Mulcahy, D.G. (2018) First record of the Malaysian Bridle Snake, Dryocalamus subannulatus (Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854) in Myanmar (Reptilia, Serpentes, Colubridae). Check List, 14 (2), 341–345.

    Li, J.T., Li, Y., Klaus, S., Rao, D.Q., Hillis, D.M. & Zhang, Y.P. (2013) Diversification of rhacophorid frogs provides evidence for accelerated faunal exchange between India and Eurasia during the Oligocene. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110 (9), 3441–3446.

    Macey, J.R., Larson, A., Ananjeva, N.B., Fang, Z. & Papenfuss, T.J. (1997) Two novel gene orders and the role of light-strand replication in rearrangement of the vertebrate mitochondrial genome. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 14 (1), 91–104.

    Manamendra-Arachchi, K., Batuwita, S. & Pethiyagoda, R. (2007) A taxonomic revision of the Sri Lankan day-geckos (Reptilia: Gekkonidae: Cnemaspis), with description of new species from Sri Lanka and southern India. Zeylanica, 7 (1), 9–122.

    Meiri, S., Bauer, A.M., Allison, A., Castro-Herrera, F., Chirio, L., Colli, G.R., Das, I., Doan, T.M., Glaw, F., Grismer, L.L., Hoogmoed, M.H., Kraus, F., LeBreton, M., Meirte, D., Nagy, Z.T., Nogueira, C.C., Oliver, P., Pauwels, O.S.G., Pincheira-Donoso, D., Shea, G., Sindaco, R., Tallowin, O.J.S., Torres-Carvajal, O., Trape, J.F., Uetz, P., Wagner, P., Wang, Y., Ziegler, T. & Roll, U. (2018) Extinct, obscure or imaginary: the lizard species with the smallest ranges. Diversity & Distributions, 24, 262–273.

    Mulcahy, D.G., Macdonald III, K.S., Brady, S.G., Meyer, C., Barker, K.B. & Coddington, J. (2016) Greater than X kb: a quantitative assessment of preservation conditions on genomic DNA quality, and a proposed standard for genome-quality DNA. PeerJ, 4, e2528

    Mulcahy, D.G., Lee, J.L., Miller, A.H. & Zug, G.R. (2017) Troublesome trimes: potential cryptic speciation of the Trimeresurus (Popeia) popieorum complex (Serpentes: Crotalidae) around the Isthmus of Kra (Myanmar and Thailand). Zootaxa, 4347 (2), 301–315.

    Mulcahy, D.G., Lee, J.L., Miller, A.H., Chand, M., Thura, M.K. & Zug, G.R. (2018) Filling the BINs of life: Report of an amphibian and reptile survey of the Tanintharyi (Tenasserim) Region of Myanmar, with DNA barcode data. ZooKeys, (757), 85.

    Pallas, P.S. (1827) Zoographia Rosso-Asiatica, sistens omnium in extenso Imperio Rossico, et adjacentibus maribus observatorum recensionem, domicilia, mores et descriptiones, anatomen atque icones plurimorum. Vol. 3. Caesaris Academiae Scientiarum, Petropoli [St. Petersburg], vii + 428 + cxxv pp.

    Parnell, J. (2013) The biogeography of the Isthmus of Kra region: a review. Nordic Journal of Botany, 31 (1), 1–15.

    Pauwels, O.S.G., David, P., Chimsunchart, C. & Thirakhupt, K. (2003) Reptiles of Phetchaburi Province, Western Thailand: a list of species, with natural history notes, and a discussion on the biogeography at the Isthmus of Kra. The Natural History Journal of Chulalongkorn University, 3 (1), 23–53.

    Pauwels, O.S.G. & Chan-ard, T. (2006) Reptiles of Kaeng Krachan National Park, western Thailand. Natural History Bulletin of the Siam Society, 54 (1), 89–108.

    Smith, M.A. (1925) Contributions to the herpetology of Borneo. Sarawak Museum Journal, 3 (11), 15–34.

    Stamatakis, A. (2014) RAxML version 8: A tool for phylogenetic analysis and post-analysis of large phylogenies. Bioinformatics, 30, 1312–1312.

    Stoliczka, F. (1873) Notes on some Andamanese and Nicobarese reptiles with the descriptions of three new species of lizards. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 42 (3), 162–169.

    Strauch, A.A. (1887) Bemerkungen über die Geckoniden-Sammlung im zoologischen Museum der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu St. Petersburg. Mémoires de l’Académie Impériale des Sciences de St. Pétersbourg, Série VII, 35 (2), 1–72 + II + 1 pl.

    Taylor, E.H. (1963) The lizards of Thailand. The University of Kansas Science Bulletin, 44 (14), 687–1077.

    Uetz, P., Freed, P. & Hošek, J. (2018) The Reptile Database. Available from: (accessed 24 July 2018)

    Weigt, L.A., Baldwin, C.C., Driskell, A., Smith, D.G., Ormos, A. & Reyier, E.A. (2012) Using DNA barcoding to assess Caribbean reef fish biodiversity: expanding taxonomic and geographic coverage. PloS one, 7 (7), e41059.

    Wilkinson, J.A., Sellas, A.B. & Vindum, J.V. (2012) A new species of Ansonia (Anura: Bufonidae) from northern Tanintharyi Division, Myanmar. Zootaxa, 3163 (1), 54–68.

    Wood, Jr. P. L., Grismer, L.L., Aowphol, A., Aguilar, C.A., Cota, M., Grismer, M.S., Murdoch, M.L. & Sites, Jr. J.W. (2017) Three new karst-dwelling Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Squamata; Gekkoniade) from Peninsular Thailand and the phylogenetic placement of C. punctatonuchalis and C. vandeventeri. PeerJ, 5, e2884.

    Zaw, T., Law, P., Pawangkhanant, P., Gorin, V.A. & Poyarkov, Jr. N.A. (2019) A new species of Crocodile Newt, genus Tylototriton (Amphibia, Caudata, Salamandridae) from the mountains of Kachin State, northern Myanmar. Zoological Research, 40, 151–174.

    Zug, G.R. (2010) Speciation and dispersal in a low diversity taxon: The Slender Geckos Hemiphyllodactylus (Reptilia, Gekkonidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 631, 1–70.

    Zug, G.R., Mulcahy, D.G. & Vindum, J.V. (2017) Resurrection of Bronchocela burmana Blanford, 1878, for the Green Crested Lizard (Squamata, Agamidae) of southern Myanmar. ZooKeys, 657, 141–156.