Over 130 new animal species, including a flightless bird and 19 species of fish, have been discovered for the first time in the world by scientists of the Zoological Survey of India in the last one year.
"In the last one year we have discovered 133 new species in 19 categories - from one-cell organisms to fish, crabs, a bird and many more in the last one year," director of Zoological Survey of India KVenkataraman told PTI.
The most significant discovery was that of a flightless bird in the Great Nicobar Islands of Andamans as a new bird species is rarely found.
The initial study of the bird has revealed that it cannot fly and has been described as Rallina crake.
"Discovery of new animal species such as one-cell organisms is common, but discovery of a new bird is very uncommon and rare.
This bird species found by ZSI is yet to be named as the scientists have managed to just have a photo. We are trying to trap one of them and study it," Venkatraman said.
The scientists have also discovered two new species of amphibians, 19 species of fishes, two species of reptiles, two species of crabs, four species of spiders, 66 species of insects and many other species including microscopic cell organisms, mites, mollusca and many others.
One of the most interesting aspects of the findings is discovery of insects and mites which act as vectors in the backyards of Kolkata.
At least one species of insect, three species of flies, two species of mites and one species of fish were found in Kolkata and some districts of Bengal, the ZSI director said.
Venkatraman said ZSI has also discovered 109 new animal species for the first time in India, including 42 species of corals.
"These 109 animal species were earlier found in various other parts of the globe. Now we have found them in the country. We have found 42 species of corals, mostly in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. These corals are quite common in Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, Red Sea, Indo-Pacific region and other countries," he said.
The discovery of these corals augur well for marine biodiversity for the east coast of India and Gulf of Mannar region as due to climatic changes and the 2004 tsunami many coral dominant regions in both Andaman and Mannar region were badly affected.
Among the 109 there are 20 species of insects, nine species of mites, two species of fish, 12 species of mollusca and many other animal species.
The two new species of fish were discovered from coastal Digha in West Bengal. They were earlier found in Thailand, Australia and Japan.
In respect to discovery of new fauna in 2012, the country accounted for 92,279 species as compared to 12.27 lakh species found across the world.
"India, specially north eastern region is very rich in bio-diversity. There are many species which are yet to be identified," he said.
Venkataraman expressed apprehension that the recent floods in Uttarkhand may have caused the extinction of many animal species permanently.
"Uttarkhand is one of the richest regions in terms of bio-diversity. We fear that many animal species have been destroyed permanently, without being discovered. We need to identify those species which can withstand all odds and still survive," he added.