Meet the New Gecko Species Named After Vincent van Gogh

Meet the New "Van Gogh" Gecko Species

The Cnemaspis vangoghi in three variations, (from top) adult male, adult female, and younger male. (Photo: Khandekar A et al.)

Think of a gecko, and you probably think of a little green reptile. Maybe even the talking Geico gecko comes to mind. But geckos actually come in a variety of colors. A gold dust gecko, for example, is the classic almost neon green, but with red and blue highlights. A Mediterannean house gecko, however, is pinkish and pebbly. A recent paper in ZooKeys has announced two new species of gecko discovered in India, including the newly named Cnemaspis vangoghi, named for legendary artist Vincent van Gogh.

Cnemaspis vangoghi, the Van Gogh gecko, was discovered by researchers in the Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu, India. The Western Ghats are a luscious, green mountain range in India. According to UNESCO, they are “one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity.” Scampering among its leaves are countless creatures, as well as hundreds of endangered species. As demonstrated by the recent discovery, there are also species still awaiting discovery, naming, and documenting. In addition to the Van Gogh gecko, the team also discovered and named Cnemaspis sathuragiriensis, a similarly blue gecko species.

Mature males of Cnemaspis vangoghi develop a stunning bluish purple skin, speckled with robin's egg blue. Across their backs, spreads a sunflower yellow. These colors are reminiscent of Van Gogh's Sunflower series, which meditated on the ochre flowers, often framed in backgrounds of blue. The researchers noticed that the colors and patterns of the reptiles were also reminiscent of the artist's swirling brushstrokes in works like The Starry Night. Unfortunately, females of the species are not blessed with the bluish hue. Instead, they have a charming black and tan speckled pattern. Youths, too, are less colorful, although the males mature into their artistic hues. The only thing prettier than these newly discovered geckos might just be their habitat, full of leopards, tigers, and countless other beautiful creatures.

A newly discovered species of gecko found in India resembles a Vincent van Gogh painting, inspiring its new name: Cnemaspis vangoghi.

Meet the New "Van Gogh" Gecko Species

Taxonomy of the geckos. (Photo: Khandekar A et al.)

Meet the New "Van Gogh" Gecko Species

The habitat of the other newly discovered species, Cnemaspis sathuragiriensis, in India. (Photo: Khandekar A et al.)

h/t: [Colossal]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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