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Gorgeous geckos: three beautiful new Queensland geckos discovered

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Source: James Cook University

A James Cook University scientist has discovered three new velvet gecko species.

The three species were discovered by Dr Conrad Hoskin, a biologist at JCU, and have this week been officially recognised in the international journal Zootaxa.

He says the geckos are particularly beautiful.

“All three are large, with spots or stripes, and with incredibly soft skin, hence the name velvet geckos, and a lovely mix of soft colours, including yellow, pink and grey.”

One of the species is found through dry forests of inland southern Queensland, another is found in a sandstone range near Moranbah and Dysart, and the third is restricted to tiny areas of brigalow forest east of Carnarvon Gorge.

All three species are in the genus Oedura, also known as velvet geckos.

The species were discovered through a mix of field exploration and looking through collections at the Queensland Museum.

“For the field work, I searched through parts of Queensland that had been rarely surveyed for reptiles, and I looked for unusual habitat types that might have interesting species hidden away.

“I also worked through the collections at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane. These collections include specimens collected all the way back to the first explorations of Queensland in the 1800s.

“It’s an incredible resource, carefully preserved for all time. One of the new species I found in the wild turned out to already be in the Queensland Museum collection, but overlooked among specimens of a similar species.”

Dr Hoskin named the new species after distinctive characteristics of their appearance:

Elegant Velvet Gecko (Oedura elegans)

Ornate Velvet Gecko (Oedura picta)

Arcadia Velvet Gecko (Oedura lineata)

“I named one Oedura elegans because it has a particularly elegant shape and colour pattern, another Oedura picta because picta means painted and refers to the bright blotches on its back, and the third species Oedura lineata because its pattern include distinctive lines.”

All three species are in good numbers within their small distributions, but wildfires remain a constant threat.

“These species have evolved with fire over millions of years but the issue now is that their distributions are smaller and fragmented, so a fire could burn through an entire area of habitat. If that fire is particularly intense, or fires are too frequent, the species could be lost from an area.”

Contact:

Dr Conrad Hoskin (Townsville)
M: 0435 026 840
Email: conrad.hoskin@jcu.edu.au

Photos of the geckos and Dr Hoskin are available here.

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