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Two New Geckos Of "Noble" Size Discovered In New Guinea

Feb 12, 2016 08:56 AM EST
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Researchers from the Australian National University and the University of Melbourne recently discovered two new, unusually large bent-toed geckos in New Guinea. Both new species belong to the world's most diverse gecko genus, Cyrtodactylus, which comprises more than 200 species. For their remarkable size, the individuals have been given noble names, "knight" and "king." 

Lizards belonging to the genus Cyrtodactylus are often referred to as bent-toed or bow-fingered geckos due to their distinctive slender curved toes. While the 200 species vary greatly in size, build and coloration, the newly described species C. rex, meaning "king" in Latin, is the largest ever found, and among the biggest of all geckos in the world, according to a news release

Cyrtodactylus geckos are commonly found across Asia and Australia. Generally, these geckos measure no more than 13 centimeters in length; however, the "gecko king" can grow up to 17 centimeters long, with the females slightly bigger than the males. These sizable reptiles are also characterized by upper body dark grey brown and medium brown colored bands. 

The second new species, the king's knight -- C. equestris -- is also considered a giant among its relatives, with females measuring upwards of 14 centimeters long. The lizards also have a large and wide head and a distinct neck, colored with alternating regions of light and medium brown markings. 

While the distribution of the two new geckos overlaps, the "gecko knight" reportedly prefers quieter, undisturbed hills or lower montane forests of northern New Guinea, while "the king" inhabits surrounding lowlands. 

What remains a mystery, however, is why the geckos have grown so large. Researchers say it may be an evolutionary trend in which competition, ecological diversification, isolation and dispersal patterns facilitate the animals' remarkable growth. 

Their findings were recently published in the journal ZooKeys.

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