A new species of gecko with beautiful psychedelic eyes has been discovered in the forests of southern Western Australia. Photo: Anders Zimny/Sadlier et al. 2023/Live Science
The new species, called the little spiny gecko (Strophurus spinula), is about 6.1 centimeters long and has white and gray mottled scales, including the eyes. So this prickly gecko is called psychedelic-eyed.
Quoted from the Live Science page, Thursday (1/6/2023), the species Strophurus spinula is the 21st species identified in the genus Strophurus, all of which are endemic to Australia. They are known collectively as the spiny-tailed gecko because they have small spines on their tails and sometimes above their eyes.
Strophurus spinula is considered to be part of a closely related species Strophurus assimilis, also known as the Goldfields spiny-tailed gecko. But in the new study, published in the journal Records of the Western Australian Museum, researchers performed a wide-scale genetic analysis of the genus and found the new species.
Closer inspection of Strophurus spinula shows the newly discovered species to be physically distinguishable from Strophurus assimilis and other spiny-tailed geckos. The new species of gecko has straight, unevenly spaced spines along its body and enlarged spines on its tail.
Genetic analysis also revealed that although it looks most similar to the Goldfields gecko, the new species is actually more closely related to the eastern spinytail gecko (Strophorus intermedius). This includes the soft spiny-tailed gecko (S. spinigerus) and the Exmouth spiny-tailed gecko (S. rankini).
Like all spiny-tailed geckos, this tiny barbed gecko can secrete a harmless, foul-smelling chemical from a gland near its tail. These chemicals prevent birds from preying on them.
The little thorn gecko seems to prefer forests dominated by mulga trees (Acacia aneura), which grow in very arid conditions. Scientists are still researching in more detail to find out why the new species prefers this type of arid habitat.
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