Thu. Feb 25th, 2021

ALBAY, Philippines — Spotting false geckos in the wild can be hard. They can easily disappear into their environment thanks to their cryptic colors and markings and their use of hollow areas to hide in. That makes it a challenge to study these forest lizards from the genus Pseudogekko. Until recently only nine species were known to science, all of them endemic to the Philippines. Now, a new paper in the journal Herpetologicadescribes a 10th species, and makes the case that there could be even more waiting to be discovered. Pseudogekko hungkag is described from six specimens collected between 2015 and 2017 from the Bicol region on the southeastern tip of the main Philippine island of Luzon. Like others in the genus, they’re delicate, slender-bodied and distinctly elongated lizards. A preference for highly specialized microhabitats like tree-trunk cavities, coupled with cryptic behavior, make them notoriously hard to find even by experienced field biologists. They also give the new species its name: hungkag means “hollow” or “empty” in Filipino, hence the common name, Bicol hollow-dwelling forest gecko. In the past decade, six species in the genus were described through revisionary studies, where existing research on habitat, appearance and molecular descriptions are revisited and thoroughly compared with present data for proper species identification. The descriptions of the 10 species to date show that “a number of these enigmatic forest lizards are particularly rare, mysterious, and have restricted geographic ranges — all of which translates to their species diversity coming to light just…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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