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‘Golden’-tailed creature — pregnant with 2 eggs — discovered as new species. See it

In World
May 08, 2024

As night fell across Thailand, a pregnant creature with a “golden” tail emerged from its hiding spot on a rocky hill. The “colorful” animal set out in search of food; or at least, it tried to.

Visiting scientists found the “golden”-tailed animal — and discovered a new species.

Researchers visited Khao Ebid, a large rock formation, several times in 2023 as part of an ongoing project to survey reptiles and amphibians, according to a study published May 8 in the peer-reviewed journal Zootaxa.

During the nighttime expeditions, researchers spotted several “colorful” and unfamiliar-looking lizards, the study said. They captured five of these animals and, taking a closer look, realized they’d discovered a new species: Dixonius chotjuckdikuli, or the Khao Ebid leaf-toed gecko.

Khao Ebid leaf-toed geckos can reach just over 4 inches in length, researchers said. They have “slender” bodies, “long” heads and “short” limbs. Their toes have a “leaf-like” shape and “robust” claws.

A Dixonius chotjuckdikuli, or Khao Ebid leaf-toed gecko.

A Dixonius chotjuckdikuli, or Khao Ebid leaf-toed gecko.


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Photos show several multicolored Khao Ebid leaf-toed geckos. The lizards have a pinkish-cream body with a brown “blotched” pattern and a “golden yellow” tail, the study said.

Khao Ebid leaf-toed geckos were found foraging on limestone boulders, a cave and a concrete building at night, the study said. One gecko was seen eating a cricket. Two female geckos were found pregnant with two eggs each.

A Dixonius chotjuckdikuli, or Khao Ebid leaf-toed gecko, as seen from above.

A Dixonius chotjuckdikuli, or Khao Ebid leaf-toed gecko, as seen from above.

Researchers said they named the new species after Natthaphat Chotjuckdikul, a “Thai petroleum engineer, keen naturalist and birdwatcher” who helped discover the new species.

The geckos’ common name refers to the Khao Ebid site where it was discovered and, so far, the only site where it has been found, the study said. Khao Ebid is a limestone hill in Phetchaburi Province and a roughly 80-mile drive southwest of Bangkok.

A Dixonius chotjuckdikuli, or Khao Ebid leaf-toed gecko, seen in its natural habitat.

A Dixonius chotjuckdikuli, or Khao Ebid leaf-toed gecko, seen in its natural habitat.

“This new species discovery follows several dozens already published, and there are many more to come,” co-author Olivier Pauwels told McClatchy News via email.

The new species was identified by its coloring, pattern, scale arrangement, body shape and other subtle physical features, the study said. Researchers did not provide a DNA analysis of the new species.

The research team included Nattasuda Donbundit, Montri Sumontha, Maneerat Suthanthangjai, Winai Suthanthangjai and Pauwels.

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