Staff Reporter

Limbless lizard found in Khandadhar hills

  • New species found where mining was proposed

    BHUBANESWAR: A group of researchers claimed to have discovered over 10 new species of frog, lizards, snakes and fresh water turtles and presence of these species indicated that Orissa was still having patches of rainforest areas.

    Researchers led by S. K. Dutta of North Orissa University stumbled upon limbless lizard from Khandadhar hills that they claimed to be an important discovery from bio geographic point of view.

    "The lizard is new to science. Preliminary scientific study reveals that the lizard belongs to the genus Seposphis, which is monotypic and was reported by Beddome during 1870 from Golconda Hills, Andhra Pradesh," Mr. Dutta said.

    He said the present discovery of the new species from Orissa after more than 100 years bore significance from biodiversity assessment point of view.

    The other limbless lizard recorded from India is of the family of Dibamidae (found in the southeast India and Nicobar Islands), Anguidae (recorded from Northeast and southeast India) and the genus Barkudia, which was recorded from Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

    "The new species is quite specialised and prefer to live in cool retreat, soft soil and below stones. The new lizard lives in forest zones with heavy canopy and they cannot live in degraded forests where the soil profile also changes rapidly," Mr. Dutta explained.

    Research scholars from different academic institutions traversed stretches of Eastern Ghats of Orissa in groups and documented the rich biodiversity along the Eastern Ghat ranges. The study was supported by Vasundhara, a city based voluntary organisation, which worked on policy analysis, research, conservation and natural resources.

    According to members of team, 15 additional species of lizards were discovered taking the total lizard species to 40 in Orissa. Similarly, about 20 new species were found during the course of study, which was in addition to 60 existing species in the State. Two to three species of snake could be new to science, said Mr. Dutta.

    Notable catches

    Moreover, 15 new frog species and two fresh turtle species were discovered in the study. The other notable catches included, golden gecko, termite hill gecko, tricarinate turtle, brown whip snake and cat snake. Incidentally, many species were found at places where mining operation have been proposed.

    "Most of the un-described species are bio-indicators of evergreen rainforests. Their closest relatives are found either in the rainforests of northeast India or Western Ghats," said Pratyush Mohapatra, a scholar.

    He said though the State had typical evergreen rainforests and some of these frogs and reptiles had been recorded from such places. "Adequate protection of such habitat will ultimately protect rare and threatened species." Among others who were part of the team are B.K. Misra, Siba Prasad Parida, Niladri Bhusan Kar, Satya Narayan Mishra and Himanshu S. Patra.