A species of gecko is the latest addition to the considerable number of endemic species (those occurring naturally within a particular region, and nowhere else) that have been discovered in the Eastern Ghats. With the scientific name Hemidactylus sushilduttai, it belongs to the genus Hemidactylus that is common in the subcontinent. The genus already has a number of species that are to be found only in South Asia (such as Hemidactylus giganteus or Giant Leaf-Toed Gecko of South India, and Hemidactylus hunae or Spotted Rock Gecko of Sri Lanka).

It was thought to be a sub-population of Hemidactylus maculatus or Spotted Leaf-Toed Gecko that resides in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra. Scientists discovered that the two are actually distant, separated from one another by both distance (opposite sides of the Deccan Plateau) and time (crucial in the process of evolution). The species is restricted to the Mahendragiri hills of north-eastern Andhra Pradesh and southern Odisha. Other vertebrate species endemic to the Eastern Ghats include the Gegeneophis orientalis, a caecilian (snake-like amphibians) and Geckoella jeyporensis (another gecko, of the genus Geckoella).

Image Attribution: The image above, sourced from Wikimedia Commons, is a photo of the Spotted Leaf-Toed Gecko from Maharashtra. It was uploaded by Shaunak Modi of Mumbai, Maharashtra. Till recently, it was believed that the Hemidactylus sushilduttai was part of the Hemidactylus maculatus group.

Reference: