Every year, scientists trawl through India’s wild terrains to survey the health of our wildlife. If they get lucky, they
Every year, scientists trawl through India’s wild terrains to survey the health of our wildlife. If they get lucky, they chance upon new species too. Sometimes, as they analyze DNA and study call-acoustics, for instance, they also find that what was previously identified as one species is actually two, or three or four. The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) compiles these new finds in its annual Animal Discoveries list. See some of the newest species listed in 2020, and a bonus: two rare finds (a mammal and a bird) from recent years.
Updated on Nov 05, 2021 09:19 PM IST 7 Photos
Vine snakes in the Western Ghats: In a revolutionary moment for reptilian taxonomy, researchers found that the commonly occurring green vine snake (Ahaetulla nasuta) from the Western Ghats was actually four distinct species. Clockwise from top left, they are the Northern Western Ghats vine snake (Ahaetulla borealis), Farnsworth’s vine snake (Ahaetulla farnsworthi), Malabar vine snake (Ahaetulla malabarica) and Wall’s vine snake (Ahaetulla isabellina). They look similar but are separated by ecological and geographical barriers. (Photo courtesy Ashok Kumar Mallik)
A frog from the Eastern Ghats: The Raorchestes kollimalai is a new species of bush frog from the understudied Eastern Ghats. Apart from its physical features and geographic data, the clinching factor in identifying it was call-acoustics. Frogs are active on torrential monsoon nights, and while in the field on one such night, the scientists found that one of the calls they were hearing was different and previously undescribed. The frog has been named for the Kolli hills of Tamil Nadu, where it was first found.(Photo courtesy Zeeshan Mirza)
New species of moray eel from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands: A new white-spotted moray eel (Gymnothorax aurocephalus) was discovered off the Swaraj Deep islands. Moray eels, including the new find, are almost exclusively marine, and characterized by irregular white spots on their body. Unlike the others in its genus, the G. aurocephalus is a chocolate brown with golden skin shadings. It also has pointed and serrated jaw teeth. (Photo courtesy K K Bineesh)
Sea slugs from Maharashtra & Gujarat: The Cratena poshitraensis (images A and B) has been named after the Poshitra region in Gujarat and the Cratena pawarshindeorum (images C and D), which was found on the rocky intertidal shores of Uran and spreads across the shores of Mumbai, was named after Rajendra Pawar and Vishwas Shinde, researchers from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), for their contributions to the study of sea slugs.