Newly Identified Gecko Species with Rock-Climbing Prowess Found in Madagascar

by Klaus Müller
10 comments
Newly Discovered Gecko Species in Madagascar

The gecko species, known as Paroedura manongavato, recently discovered in Madagascar, is notable for its adeptness in rock-climbing and its critically endangered status due to limited habitat. The recognition of this species adds to the comprehension of the taxonomical intricacies of the P. bastardi group and underlines the urgent need for biodiversity conservation. Credit is attributed to Javier Lobón-Rovira for this discovery.

Christened after its ecological niche, Paroedura manongavato takes its name from the Malagasy terms “manonga,” meaning to climb, and “vato,” meaning rock. The creature excels in the activity of bouldering.

A portion of the gecko’s natural territory is also renowned among rock-climbing enthusiasts for its imposing granite domes.

C. Piccoli of CIBIO – Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, Portugal, states, “The formal description of this species is an incremental advance toward solving the complex taxonomy of the recently redefined P. bastardi group. The new species augments the total count of identified species in this genus to 25, all of which are endemic to Madagascar and the Comoros.” She and her research team have recently published a scientific paper delineating this new species of gecko.

Habitat and Conservation Status of the Gecko

So far, this species has exclusively been located in Anja Reserve and Tsaranoro, both isolated patches of forest situated on the arid plateau in south-central Madagascar.

These locations, separated by approximately 25 km, are characterized by large granite boulders near rocky cliffs and enveloped by flora. Paroedura manongavato’s survival, categorized as microendemic due to its highly restricted geographical distribution, is contingent upon the conservation of these small patches of forest.

In a subsequent step, the researchers suggested classifying its conservation status as Critically Endangered, as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Journey of Discovery

The journey to discover this species has been extensive, initiated during Madagascar’s summer season in 2010. The initial evidence of a distinct Paroedura species was discovered in Anja, along with another recently identified species, P. rennerae, in 2021. Discriminating between these two species in the field is a challenging endeavor.

Both species manifest distinct dorsal-enlarged keeled scales and a comparable dorsal pattern. However, adult Paroedura manongavato individuals exhibit fewer pronounced spikes, subtler dorsal markings, and a reduced body size in comparison to P. rennerae.

Additional fieldwork was required for specimen collection, prompting researchers A. Crottini, F. Andreone, and G. M. Rosa to revisit Anja in 2014 and collect the holotype—the designated reference specimen—of this new species.

Further collection efforts in 2018 by F. Belluardo, J. Lobón-Rovira, and M. Rasoazanany provided several tissue samples and high-resolution photographs of the resident reptiles, including the newly described species, thus contributing significantly to its formal description.

Significance and Publication of the Study

The study, made available in the open-access journal ZooKeys, underscores the critical nature of herpetological studies in Madagascar for advancing our understanding of species diversity and enhancing conservation assessments.

C. Piccoli, the principal author of the study, emphasizes, “The documentation of this species underscores the vital role of collaborative research in recording biodiversity, particularly for species that are range-restricted and face a high risk of extinction.”

Reference: “Navigating Through the Crux: A Newly Discovered Microendemic Rock-Dwelling Paroedura (Squamata, Gekkonidae) from South-Central Madagascar” by Costanza Piccoli, Francesco Belluardo, Javier Lobón-Rovira, Ivo Oliveira Alves, Malalatiana Rasoazanany, Franco Andreone, Gonçalo M. Rosa, and Angelica Crottini, dated 4 October 2023, in ZooKeys.
DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.1181.108134

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Newly Discovered Gecko Species in Madagascar

What is the new species of gecko discovered in Madagascar?

The new species is named Paroedura manongavato, and it is notable for its rock-climbing abilities.

Where was Paroedura manongavato discovered?

This species was discovered in Anja Reserve and Tsaranoro, both of which are isolated patches of forest situated on the arid plateau in south-central Madagascar.

Who is responsible for the discovery and research of this species?

The research team led by C. Piccoli from CIBIO – Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, Portugal, is responsible for the discovery and formal description of the species. The team recently published a paper on the species.

What is the conservation status of Paroedura manongavato?

The species is classified as Critically Endangered, as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This designation is due to its limited habitat and microendemic status.

How does the discovery of Paroedura manongavato contribute to science?

The discovery adds to the existing knowledge of the P. bastardi group’s taxonomy and underscores the urgent need for biodiversity conservation, particularly for species with limited habitats.

What distinguishes Paroedura manongavato from other species in the same genus?

Adult individuals of Paroedura manongavato have fewer pronounced spikes, subtler dorsal markings, and a smaller body size compared to another recently described species, P. rennerae.

What was the timeline for the discovery of this species?

The initial evidence of a distinct Paroedura species was discovered in Anja during Madagascar’s summer in 2010. Additional research and specimen collection continued until 2018, culminating in its formal description.

Where was the study about this new species published?

The study was published in the open-access journal ZooKeys, and it highlights the importance of conducting herpetological inventories in Madagascar to enhance species diversity understanding and conservation assessments.

What makes the habitat of Paroedura manongavato unique?

The gecko’s habitat is characterized by large granite boulders near rocky cliffs and enveloped by flora, making it a specialized environment conducive for its rock-climbing abilities.

What collaborative efforts were involved in the discovery and study of this species?

The study involved multiple researchers and emphasized the importance of collaborative research efforts for documenting biodiversity, particularly for range-restricted and endangered species.

More about Newly Discovered Gecko Species in Madagascar

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10 comments

GreenPlanet October 14, 2023 - 6:55 am

Lets hope this discovery leads to stronger conservation efforts. Our planet needs it.

Reply
Samantha October 14, 2023 - 7:02 am

Critical endangerment right off the bat? Man, we’re really messing up this planet aren’t we.

Reply
MadagascarFan October 14, 2023 - 8:27 am

Its about time Madagascar gets the attention it deserves for its unique species. so many hidden gems there!

Reply
JohnDoe October 14, 2023 - 12:38 pm

Wow, this is groundbreaking stuff. Never thought geckos could be rock climbers, haha.

Reply
RockClimber22 October 14, 2023 - 12:59 pm

As a rock climber, I can say that’s one cool gecko. I’d love to meet one on my climbs. But hope they save its habitat first.

Reply
NatureLover101 October 14, 2023 - 2:28 pm

So sad that even newly discovered species are already endangered. We need to get our act together people!

Reply
EcoWarrior October 14, 2023 - 5:03 pm

Finally, some good research coming out that stresses the importance of biodiversity. More of this pls!

Reply
CuriousMinds October 14, 2023 - 5:48 pm

How does it even survive in such a harsh environment, mad respect for these little creatures.

Reply
CryptoHerp October 14, 2023 - 5:57 pm

Can’t believe they started discovering it in 2010 and only now its being fully described. Science takes time, huh.

Reply
TaxonomyGeek October 14, 2023 - 7:11 pm

Excellent work on the taxonomy part. P. bastardi group needed this clarification. Keep it up researchers!

Reply

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