Crested Gecko Scientific Name
Crested geckos go by many names. Things can get a bit confusing sometimes. You might have many questions if you recently started learning about reptiles. We’ve all been there as newbie reptile enthusiasts. But don’t worry! I’ll help you clear things up.
Confused about scientific names, common names, and why we use them? Also, what’s up with all these sciencey classifications of orders and families? Keep reading to get a better picture! Welcome to biology 101, crested gecko edition!
Scientific Name for Crested Gecko
In biology, we use a classification system called “taxonomy.” It helps us group but also distinguish different organisms. In this system, each organism is organized into hierarchic categories. The lowest hierarchic category is the “species.” Thus, an animal’s scientific name is synonymous with the “species” name in the taxonomic classification.
Fun fact, the scientific name is also called a “binomial” (a two-part name). All animal species have a scientific name made up of two terms. So, what about crested geckos? The widely-accepted species name is “Correlophus ciliatus.”
This gecko species was named in 1866 by the French zoologist Alphone Guichenot. “Correlophus” refers to the Crestie’s genus. The genus is the first taxonomic category above the species. The Correlophus genus also includes two other closely-related gecko species native to New Caledonia.
“Ciliatus” comes from the Latin word “cilia,” which means “eyelashes.” A fitting name for this gecko, if you ask me. A less common but synonymous scientific name for cresties is “Rhacodactylus ciliatus.” If you ever see “ciliatus” geckos in two different genera, know they’re the same species.
Common Names for Crested Gecko
The non-scientific name for an animal is also known as a “common name.” The most widely-used common name for “Correlophus ciliatus” is “crested gecko.” People also affectionately shorten the common name to “Crestie.”
Another popular name is “eyelash gecko.” Both common names refer to the gecko’s spike-like projections on its eyes and back. These common names are more or less a direct translation of the scientific Latin name. Most other languages in the world use a similar variation. Take a look at the common name in other languages:
- Spanish: Gecko Crestado (crested gecko)
- Portuguese: Gecko de Crista (crested gecko)
- Mandarin Chinese: 睫角守宮 / Jié jiǎo shǒugōng (eyelash gecko)
- Dutch: Wimpergekko / Kroongekko (eyelash gecko / crown gecko)
- German: Kronengecko (crown gecko)
- French: Gecko à cils (gecko with eyelashes)
- Russian: Реснитчатый геккон / Resnitchatyy gekkon (eyelash gecko)
I guess we aren’t that inspired. Or the Latin name is just too fitting! Why fix it if it ain’t broken, right?
Crested Gecko Order
As you may know, crested geckos are reptiles. But so are turtles and crocodiles. All of these reptiles belong to the same scientific class (Reptilia). But clearly, these are still very different. To distinguish them further, we classify them into separate orders. The order is the taxonomic category below class.
Crested geckos belong to the taxonomic order “Squamata.” The scientific name derives from the Latin word “squamatus” and means “scaly” or “having scales.” This order includes all geckos, other lizards, and snakes. Two main characteristics separate Squamata from other reptiles.
First, reptiles in the order Squamata have exceptional skull mobility. These reptiles have evolved unique movable skull bones that allow them to lift their upper jaw relative to their skull. That’s how snakes can open their mouths freakishly wide and swallow their prey whole! It’s less extreme in Geckos, but this hyper-mobile jaw is still present.
The second characteristic is their skin. Most reptiles are scaley and shed skin fragments or scutes while growing. But only Squamatas will shed their skin throughout their life, even after reaching adult size. Most Squamatas also shed all their skin at once in a process called “molting.”
Snakes and lizards in this order can be further separated into different suborders. Crested geckos, along with other related lizards, belong to the suborder “Gekkota” which encompasses over 1,500 species.
Crested Gecko Family
In the taxonomic classification, the family is the first category following the order and sub-order. Just like we distinguish between different types of reptiles, we can also distinguish between different kinds of geckos. Under the Squamata order and the Gekkota suborder, crested geckos fall under the family “Diplodactylidae.”
The crested gecko is one of over 150 species in this family. These reptiles occur in Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia. For different species to be classified within the same family, there must be marked physical similarities. Geckos in the family Diplodactylidae share very similar habitats throughout Oceania.
Because crested geckos have evolved alongside these other species in the same habitat, they share similar body morphology, diets, and environmental parameters. For example, most geckos in this family live in warm rainforests. These lizards have evolved toepads to help them climb trees in their native habitat.
Reptiles Similar to Crested Geckos
The further down you go in the taxonomic classification, the more similar the species become. So, if you want to find the closest relatives of the crested geckos, you’ll want to look at the taxonomic genus. The genus is the category that comes after the family. A genus contains the species and sub-species under it.
Crested geckos belong to the genus “Correlophus.” This genus contains just three species of gecko lizards native to New Caledonia. The crested gecko (Correlophus ciliates) was the first to be discovered and described in 1866. Besides cresties, this genus contains the following two species:
– Correlophus sarasinorum
This is also commonly called the Suras Gecko, Sarasins’ Giant Gecko, or Roux’s Giant Gecko. It was first discovered and described in 1913 and is currently classified as a vulnerable species under the IUCN Red List.
This gecko has large eyes and a considerable body size of up to 5.5 inches. It’s less arboreal and doesn’t have “crests” on its body like other geckos in this genus. Suras geckos are typically brown or dirty grey.
– Correlophus belepensis
This species was discovered and described in 2012. We don’t know much about this gecko so far. It looks very similar to the crested gecko and can reach a total body size of 4 inches.
Correlophus belepensis is the only other gecko species with crests on its eyes and back. The body color ranges from brown to dirty grey. Unfortunately, this species is already considered critically endangered.
The order is the furthest up you can go in the taxonomic classification and still find similar-looking reptiles. The order Squamata contains many subgroups and related families of reptiles. Among these, lizards comprise a very large group which includes geckos and other families.
Other reptiles related to geckos include skinks, iguanas, chameleons, anoles, and agamids. But what about geckos only? The sub-order Gekkota contains over 1,500 gecko species. They all look largely similar. Some of the most popular species often kept as pets include:
- Chameleon Geckos (Carphodactylus laevis)
- Smooth Knob-Tailed Geckos (Nephrurus laevissimus)
- Barking Geckos (Underwoodisaurus milii)
- Cat Geckos (Aeluroscalabotes felinus)
- Leopard Geckos (Eublepharis macularius)
- Common House Geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus)
- Golden Geckos (Gekko badenii)
The crested gecko, also known as the “eyelash gecko,” is a species of gecko lizard native to New Caledonia. Its scientific name is “Correlophus ciliates.” The closest relatives to cresties are Correlophus sarasinorum and Correlophus belepensis. All of these species fall under the genus “Correlophus.”
Other close relatives include species in the suborder Gekkota. These include chameleon geckos, leopard geckos, golden geckos, and over 1,500 other species. The order Squamata encompasses all geckos and all other lizard species, including chameleons, iguanas, skinks, anoles, and agamids.