It doesn't make honey, but this new species of gecko does resemble a bumblebee with its distinct yellow and black markings. Discovered in Sohoniliu Village on Manus Island in
Papua New Guinea in May 2010, the bumblebee gecko (Nactus kunan) was
described as a new species in April 2012 by herpetologists George Zug of the Smithsonian Institution and Robert Fisher of the U.S. Geological Survey. The gecko is about 13 centimeters (5 inches) long from head to tail and lives on the tropical forest floor.
"The discovery of a new species from deep in the forests of New
Guinea is a cause for celebration, adding one more chapter to 'The Book
of Life,' " remarked USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "Now the real work
begins! To fill those pages with the wonders of this new creature, its
place in the forest ecosystem, its adaptation to its environment, and
perhaps even novel strategies for coping with disease from which we will
"We've officially named it Nactus kunan for its striking color
pattern — kunan means 'bumblebee' in the local Nali language," says
Fisher. "It belongs to a genus of slender-toed geckos, which means these
guys don’t have the padded, wall-climbing toes like the common house
gecko, or the day gecko in the car insurance commercials."
Fisher found two individuals of the bumblebee gecko on Manus Island
and analyzed their genetics to show that the lizards were new
and distinctive. Two additional species were found during the 2010 trip, and the
specimens await further analysis.
"This species was a striking surprise, as I’ve been working on the
genus since the 1970s, and would not have predicted this discovery,"
says Zug, a curator emeritus at the National Museum of Natural History.
"Exploration of Manus Province is in its infancy, with many new
species possible, and this joint expedition was our first to this
region," says Bulisa Iova, the reptile curator at the Papua New Guinea
G.R. Zug and R.N. Fisher, A preliminary assessment of the Nactus pelagicus species group (Squamata: Gekkonnidae) in New Guinea and a new species from the Admiralty Islands, Zootaxa 3257:22-37, 2012
For Further Study
Gecko, Squamata, New vertebrate species, East Indies, Protective coloration, Classification, biological
Related Web Sites:
George Zug's Web page at the Smithsonian
Robert Fisher's Web page at USGS
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Division of Amphibians and Reptiles
USGS Western Ecological Research Center