New Gecko Species Discovered in Australia

November 21, 2016

Researchers with Australian National University have discovered a new species of gecko that apparently had been right under their noses but had no idea it was a new species. The lizard, Oedura luritja, found near Alice Springs and Kings Canyon, was thought to be the more common velvet gecko until a genetic test was performed on a specimen. 

According to Dr. Paul Oliver, the new species has its own genetic line that goes back millions of years. Oedura luritja was discovered by former ANU researcher Robert Bustard. More than 40 years ago, Bustard was working with a population of what he thought were velvet geckos in the MacDonnell Ranges south of Alice Springs. 

"They were slightly different and had a unique characteristic,” Oliver told The Age. “He had an inkling there was something there but there wasn't enough information at the time." 

Oliver believes the gecko may have been isolated from the more common velvet gecko when the area in which they live, a wet region millions of years ago, dried out. Oliver believes the species has since lived in what is now a rocky area for millions of years after the aridification of the area. 

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