A new study published in the journal Zootaxa details the exciting discovery of a new species of velvet gecko found on one of Australia’s Northern Territory islands. The colorful new gecko, Oedura nesos, was found on Groote Eylandt and is believed to only occur on this island, which is the third-largest offshore island in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The gecko sports two fetching color patterns. The first when it’s a baby, which is black with bright white bands, The other develops as it matures and is a pattern of white bands and yellow spots, which contrast with the adult gecko’s otherwise grey skin. It was discovered creeping among rock crevices on the island by researchers from the Queensland Museum, Griffith University, and the University of Melbourne.
“This species was formerly confused with another similar gecko we described in 2016, called Oedura bella, but we had some clues that it might not be the same,” said lead researcher Dr Paul Oliver in a statement. “Fortunately, we were able work with researchers from the Northern Territory Government and Traditional Owners and rangers from the Anindilyakwa Land Council to get material for genetic analyses and pictures of the animal in life.”
The discovery comes as one of many in recent years from Northern Australia’s islands, with nine other new species recently discovered in the region. The island is also of particular ecological importance to a number of endangered species including the northern hopping mouse and brush-tailed rabbit rat.
“I am currently writing a field guide to the reptiles of the Northern Territory, and the list of species I have to include is growing rapidly, and I’m struggling to keep up!” said Mr Chris Jolly from the University of Melbourne, emphasizing how our understanding of Top End lizard diversity is continuing to improve. “It’s both exciting, and really important, because it means we are continually improving understanding of our region’s biodiversity.”