Name that gecko

An elementary-school girl has named a new species of gecko recently found by two U.S. scientists who were studying the reptiles on the South Pacific island of New Caledonia.

Through gene sequencing and other genetic analysis, researchers Aaron Bauer from Villanova University and Tony Gamble from the University of Minnesota discovered what actually turned out to be a new family of gecko, which they say comprises about 103 species. The grouping had previously been misidentified.

The scientists agreed to allow Zilla, a reptile-supplies company, to organize a national gecko-naming contest aimed at educating children about the creatures.

New Jersey fourth-grader Gemma Farquhar came up with the winning moniker, Bavayia periclitata, which, in part, means “endangered” in Latin. The 10-year-old said she chose the name to help people realize that geckos are disappearing.