A new species of gecko was discovered in Papua New Guinea. Herpetologist Robert Fisher of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center found two bumblebee-like geckos in Sohoniliu Village on Manus Island in May 2010.
The gecko lizard measures at 5 inches and has stripes of black and yellow that make it look like a bumblebee. It also has rows of skin nodules to help camouflage itself on the tropical forest floor.
U.S.G.S. herpetologist Robert Fisher said, “We’ve officially named it Nactus kunan for its striking color pattern — kunan means ‘bumblebee’ in the local Nali language. It belongs to a genus of slender-toed geckos, which means these guys don’t have the padded, wall-climbing toes like the common house gecko, or the day gecko in the car insurance commercials.”
George Zug, a curator emeritus at the National Museum of Natural History said, “This species was a striking surprise, as I’ve been working on the genus since the 1970s, and would not have predicted this discovery.”
The report notes that only the two geckos were found of the bumblebee-like species over a span of the week. “Both specimens were collected within a hundred meters of each other along a forested ridgeline on the south side of the Lauis River. The two animals collected were on two different village house structures in small openings in the forest at night at approximately 200 m elevation. Surveys were conducted for more individuals for another couple of hours and no additional specimens were detected,” the report said.
USGS Director Marcia McNutt in a press release, “The discovery of a new species from deep in the forests of New Guinea is a cause for celebration, adding one more chapter to ‘The Book of Life.’ Now the real work begins! To fill those pages with the wonders of this new creature, its place in the forest ecosystem, its adaptation to its environment, and perhaps even novel strategies for coping with disease from which we will ultimately benefit.”
“Exploration of Manus Province is in its infancy, with many new species possible, and this joint expedition was our first to this region,” said Bulisa Iova, the reptile curator at the Papua New Guinea National Museum.
Two other lizards collected during the expedition are currently being studied to determine whether they are also new to science.
Image Credit: Robert Fisher of the U.S. Geological Survey