New Lizard Species Discovered in Tamil Nadu Resembles Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”

New Lizard Species Discovered in Tamil Nadu Resembles Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”

Scientists from the Thackeray Wildlife Foundation in India have made a remarkable discovery of a new lizard species reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh’s painting, “The Starry Night.”

Expedition and Discovery

  • The discovery occurred in the Southern Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu during an expedition in April 2022.
  • The team, including Ishan Agarwal, Akshay Khandekar, and Tejas Thackeray, identified the lizard.

Description of Cnemaspis vangoghi

  • Cnemaspis vangoghi is a small-sized gecko, reaching up to 3.4 cm in length.
  • Its distinct yellow head and forebody, along with light blue spots on the back, resemble Van Gogh’s masterpiece.
  • The lizard prefers habitats among rocks, occasionally seen on buildings and trees.

Publication and Recognition

  • The findings were published in the esteemed journal ZooKeys, acknowledging the biodiversity of Tamil Nadu.
  • The lizard was named Cnemaspis vangoghi in honor of Vincent van Gogh.

Biodiversity Exploration

  • Tamil Nadu is recognized for its exceptional biodiversity.
  • The team anticipates naming over 50 new lizard species from the region.
  • Despite challenges faced during the expedition, including over 500 tick bites, the team’s efforts illuminated the ecological richness of Tamil Nadu.

Additional Discoveries

  • Alongside Cnemaspis vangoghi, another species named Cnemaspis sathuragiriensis was discovered.
  • Cnemaspis sathuragiriensis derives its name from its type locality, the Sathuragiri Hills.
  • Both species inhabit low elevation, deciduous forests within the Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve.


  • The restricted localities of these species showcase a case of micro-endemism in low-elevation habitats.
  • Micro-endemism refers to species restricted to very small geographic areas, often a few square kilometers or less.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs):

  1. What is the name of the lizard discovered by the Thackeray Wildlife Foundation?
    • A) Cnemaspis sathuragiriensis
    • B) Cnemaspis vangoghi
    • C) Cnemaspis thackerayi
    • D) Cnemaspis vanGoghii
    Answer: B) Cnemaspis vangoghi
  2. Where was the lizard discovered?
    • A) Eastern Western Ghats
    • B) Northern Western Ghats
    • C) Southern Western Ghats
    • D) Central Western Ghats
    Answer: C) Southern Western Ghats
  3. What is the distinctive feature of Cnemaspis vangoghi?
    • A) Red head and forebody
    • B) Yellow head and forebody
    • C) Blue head and forebody
    • D) Green head and forebody
    Answer: B) Yellow head and forebody
  4. Which famous painting does Cnemaspis vangoghi’s coloration resemble?
    • A) “The Mona Lisa”
    • B) “The Starry Night”
    • C) “The Last Supper”
    • D) “Sunflowers”
    Answer: B) “The Starry Night”
  5. What phenomenon is observed in the restricted localities of Cnemaspis vangoghi and Cnemaspis sathuragiriensis?
    • A) Macro-endemism
    • B) Micro-endemism
    • C) Biogeographical dispersion
    • D) Ecological succession
    Answer: B) Micro-endemism