Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer
Published: 2020-12-17

Two new species of yellow-tailed Hemidactylus Goldfuss, 1820 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from rocky outcrops on the Telangana Plateau, India

Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560012, India. Institute of Evolution, Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology, University of Haifa, 199 Aba Khoushy Ave., Haifa 3498838, Israel.
Foundation for Biodiversity Conservation, A 1903, Shubhkalyan, Nanded City, Sinhgad Road, Pune 411041, India.
Jeevan Rekha medical store, Sam, Jaisalmer 345001, India.
Thackeray Wildlife Foundation, Vaibhav Chambers, BKC, Bandra, Mumbai, 400051, India.
Reptilia Dry zone granite Hemidactylus brookii peninsular India rocky outcrops rupicolous


Two distinct species of the gekkonid genus Hemidactylus are described from the dry zone of peninsular India from the state of Telangana. The two sister species, Hemidactylus flavicaudus sp. nov. and H. xericolus sp. nov., are nested within the morphologically cryptic H. brookii group, but are clearly distinguishable from all known species in having a bright yellow tail and yellow markings on the head, besides unique combinations of meristic characters and small body size (< 45 mm snout to vent length). The two new species are also deeply divergent from each other and other members of the H. brookii group in mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenase 2 and cytochrome b sequences. Hemidactylus flavicaudus sp. nov. can be diagnosed from H. xericolus sp. nov. based on the number of dorsal tubercle rows at midbody (11–14 versus 6–8). These descriptions of evolutionarily and morphologically distinct species highlight the dearth of studies carried out in the dry zone of peninsular India and the urgent need to assess biodiversity in the face of rapid land-use changes in this landscape.



  1. Agarwal, I., Bauer, A.M., Giri, V.B. & Khandekar, A. (2019a) An expanded ND2 phylogeny of the brookii and prashadi groups with the description of three new Indian Hemidactylus Oken (Squamata: Gekkonidae). Zootaxa, 4619 (3), 431–458.

    Agarwal, I., Giri, V. & Bauer, A.M. (2018) On the status of Cyrtodactylus malcolmsmithi (Constable, 1949). Breviora, 557, 1–11.

    Agarwal, I., Mirza, Z.A., Pal, S., Maddock, S.T., Mishra, A. & Bauer, A.M. (2016) A new species of the Cyrtodactylus (Geckoella) collegalensis (Beddome, 1870) complex (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Western India. Zootaxa, 4170 (2), 339–354.

    Agarwal, I. & Ramakrishnan, U. (2017) A phylogeny of open-habitat lizards (Squamata: Lacertidae: Ophisops) supports the antiquity of Indian grassy biomes. Journal of Biogeography, 44, 2021–2032.

    Agarwal, I., Thackeray, T., Pal, S. & Khandekar, A. (2020) Granite boulders act as deep-time climate refugia: a Miocene divergent clade of rupicolous Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Mysore Plateau, India, with descriptions of three new species. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 58 (4), 1234–1261.

    Ali, J.R. & Aitchison, J.C. (2008) Gondwana to Asia: Plate tectonics, paleogeography and the biological connectivity of the Indian sub-continent from the middle Jurassic through latest Eocene (166–35 Ma). Earth Science Reviews, 88, 145–166.

    Bansal, R. & Karanth, K.P. (2010) Molecular phylogeny of Hemidactylus geckos (Squamata: Gekkonidae) of the Indian sub- continent reveals a unique Indian radiation and an Indian origin of Asian house geckos. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 57, 459–465.

    Bauer, A.M., Giri, V.B., Greenbaum, E., Jackman, T.R., Dharne, M.S. & Shouche, Y.S., (2008) On the systematics of the gekkonid genus Teratolepis Günther, 1869: another one bites the dust. Hamadryad, 33, 13–28.

    Bauer, A.M., Jackman, T.R., Greenbaum, E., Giri, V. & De Silva, A. (2010a) South Asia supports a major endemic radiation of Hemidactylus geckos. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 57, 343–352.

    Bauer, A.M., Jackman, T.R., Greenbaum, E., de Silva, A., Giri, V.B. & Das, I. (2010b) Molecular evidence for the taxonomic status of Hemidactylus brookii group taxa (Squamata: Gekkonidae). The Herpetological Journal, 20, 129–138.

    Carranza, S. & Arnold, E.N. (2006) Systematics, biogeography, and evolution of Hemidactylus geckos (Reptilia: Gekkonidae) elucidated using mitochondrial DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 38, 531–545.

    Chaitanya, R., Lajmi, A. & Giri, V.B. (2018) A new cryptic, rupicolous species of Hemidactylus Oken, 1817 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Meghamalai, Tamil Nadu, India. Zootaxa, 4374 (1), 49–70.

    Chaitanya, R., Agarwal, I., Lajmi, A. & Khandekar, A. (2019) A novel member of the Hemidactylus brookii complex (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, India. Zootaxa, 4646 (2), 236–250.

    Giri, V.B. (2008) A new rock dwelling Hemidactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Maharashtra, India. Hamadryad, 32, 25–33.

    Giri, V.B. & Bauer, A.M. (2008) A new ground-dwelling Hemidactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Maharashtra, with a key to the Hemidactylus of India. Zootaxa, 1700 (1), 21–34.

    Karanth, K.P. (2015) An island called India: phylogenetic patterns across multiple taxonomic groups reveal endemic radiations. Current Science, 108, 1847–1851

    Khandekar, A., Thackeray, T. & Agarwal, I. (2019b) Two more new species of Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the northern Western Ghats, Maharashtra, India. Zootaxa, 4656, 43–70.

    Lajmi, A., Bansal, R., Giri, V. & Karanth, P. (2018) Phylogeny and biogeography of the endemic Hemidactylus geckos of the Indian subregion suggest multiple dispersals from Peninsular India to Sri Lanka, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2018, zly047.

    Lajmi, A., Giri, V.B. & Karanth, K.P. (2016) Molecular data in conjunction with morphology help resolve the Hemidactylus brookii complex (Squamata: Gekkonidae). Organisms Diversity & Evolution, 16 (3), 659–677.

    Lajmi, A. & Karanth, P.K. (2020) Eocene-Oligocene cooling and the diversification of Hemidactylus geckos in Peninsular India. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 142, 106637.

    Lajmi, A., Verma, A. & Karanth, K.P. (2020) Repeated evolution of terrestrial lineages in a continental lizard radiation. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 33 (1), 57–66.

    Lanfear, R., Calcott, B., Ho, S.Y.W. & Guindon, S. (2012) Partitionfinder: combined selection of partitioning schemes and substitution models for phylogenetic analysis. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 29 (6), 1695–1701.

    Mahony, S. (2009) A new species of gecko of the genus Hemidactylus (Reptilia: Gekkonidae) from Andhra Pradesh. Russian Journal of Herpetology, 16, 27–34.

    Mahony, S. (2011) Taxonomic revision of Hemidactylus brookii Gray: a re-examination of the type series and some Asian synonyms, and a discussion of the obscure species Hemidactylus subtriedrus Jerdon (Reptilia: Gekkonidae). Zootaxa, 3042 (1), 37–67.

    Mirza, Z.A. (2018) A new cryptic species of ground-dwelling Hemidactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from southern India. Phyllomedusa, 17, 169–180.

    Mirza, Z.A., Gowande, G.G., Patil, R., Ambekar, M. & Patel, H. (2018) First appearance deceives many: disentangling the Hemidactylus triedrus species complex using an integrated approach. PeerJ, 6, e5341.

    Mirza, Z.A. & Sanap, R. (2014) New cryptic species of gecko of the genus Hemidactylus Oken, 1817 (Reptilia: Gekkonidae) from Southern India. Taprobanica, 6 (1), 12–20.

    Murray, J.A. (1884) Additions to the reptilian fauna of Sind. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 5, 14 (80), 97–106.

    Sayyed, A., Pyron, R.A. & Dileepkumar, R. (2018) Four new species of the genus Cnemaspis Strauch, (Sauria: Gekkonidae) from the northern Western Ghats, India. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, 12, 1–29.

    Silvestro, D. & Michalak, I. (2012). raxmlGUI: a graphical front-end for RAxML. Organisms Diversity & Evolution, 12 (4), 335–337.

    Stamatakis, A. (2006). RAxML-VI-HPC: maximum likelihood-based phylogenetic analyses with thousands of taxa and mixed models. Bioinformatics, 22 (21), 2688-2690.

    Tamura, K., Peterson, D., Peterson, N., Stecher, G., Nei, M. & Kumar, S. (2011) MEGA5: Molecular evolutionary genetics analysis using maximum likelihood, evolutionary distance, and maximum parsimony methods. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 28, 2731–2739.

    Thompson, J.D., Higgins, D.G., Gibson, T.J. (1994) CLUSTAL W: improving the sensitivity of progressive multiple sequence alignment through sequence weighting, positions-specific gap penalties and weight matrix choice. Nucleic Acids Research, 22, 4673–4680.

    Uetz, P., Freed, P. & Hosek, J. (2020) The Reptile Database. Available from: (accessed 8 April 2020)