Researchers from Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh claim to have discovered a soil-inhabiting nematode or roundworm from the grasslands in Assam's Kaziranga National Park.
A team at the university's Zoology department says that the newly discovered nematode is quite unique despite its close resemblance with another related genus, Pachydorylaimus, with all its species found only in Central America.
The researchers have reported their findings in the latest edition of leading international journal Nematology, published from the Netherlands.
The researchers have named this new genus and species as Rhinodorylaimus Kazirangus on rhinoceros, the flagship animal at this National Park, according to university sources.
Prof Wasim Ahmad, who led the team, said that India's northeast, where the nematode has been discovered, is one of the world's most notable "biodiversity hotspots".
"Nematodes play a very critical role in the soil's ecosystem. For decades we have been looking only at the above ground diversity of national parks and sanctuaries, neglecting the importance of below ground fauna.
"There is an urgent need to study the below ground fauna, especially nematodes because of their significant role in nutrient cycling," he said.
Nematodes or roundworms are unsegmented worms with elongated rounded body pointed at both ends. The species are difficult to distinguish; over 28,000 have been described, of which over 16,000 are parasitic. It has been estimated that the total number of nematode species might be some 100,0000.