Researchers have described a new species of the genus Calotes from southern China and northern Vietnam.
Photographs of live specimens and their habitats: (A) holotype of Calotes wangi; (B) holotype of Calotes wangi hainanensis; (C) allotype of Calotes wangi; (D) allotype of Calotes wangi hainanensis; (E, F) habitats; (G) oral cavity view. Image credit: Huang et al., doi: 10.3897/zookeys.1187.110704.
The genus Calotes contains at least 29 species throughout the world, but they are distributed primarily in southern and southeastern Asia.
Most species of this genus have narrow geographic distributions except Calotes versicolor, which is mainly found across continental Asia from southeastern Iran in the west to southern China and Indonesia in the east.
“From 2009 to 2022, we conducted a series of field surveys in South China and collected a number of specimens of the Calotes versicolor species complex, and found that the population of what we thought was Calotes versicolor in South China and Northern Vietnam was a new undescribed species and two subspecies,” said Dr. Yong Huang, a researcher at the Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine and the Key Laboratory of Protection and Utilization of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ethnic Medicine Resources.
Named the Wang’s garden lizard (Calotes wangi), the new species is less than 9 cm long, and one of its distinguishing features is its orange tongue.
“Calotes wangi is found in subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forests and tropical monsoon forests in southern China and northern Vietnam, mostly in mountainous areas, hills and plains on forest edges, arable land, shrub lands, and even urban green belts,” Dr. Huang said.
“It is active at the edge of the forest, and when it is in danger, it rushes into bushes or climbs tree trunks to hide.”
“Investigations found that the lizards lie on sloping shrub branches at night, sleeping close to the branches.”
Calotes wangi is active from April to October every year, while in the tropics it is active from March to November or even longer, and eats a variety of insects, spiders, and other arthropods.
The researchers estimate that the new species is not threatened, but they do note that in some areas its habitat is fragmented.
“In addition, their bodies are used medicinally and the lizards are also eaten,” they said.
“This is why they suggest that the local government strengthen the protection of their ecological environment and pay close attention to the population dynamics.”
The authors report their discovery in a paper in the journal ZooKeys.
Y. Huang et al. 2023. Taxonomic review of the Calotes versicolor complex (Agamidae, Sauria, Squamata) in China, with description of a new species and subspecies. ZooKeys 1187: 63-89; doi: 10.3897/zookeys.1187.110704
Source : Breaking Science News