Three new species of legless amphibians found in northeast

October 20, 2009 11:39 pm | Updated October 22, 2009 01:15 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Three new species of legless amphibians have been discovered from forests in Manipur and Nagaland by researchers led by Delhi University Associate Professor S.D. Biju.

The team’s find, published in the latest issue of Zootaxa (an international journal of zoological taxonomy), is unique as two of the new species have moustache-like stripes on the upper lip not found in caecilians reported from any part of the world before, a university release said on Tuesday.

Worldwide more than 170 species of caecilians (which are one among the three orders of amphibians known as Gymnophiona) have been reported so far.

In northeast India, only four of these species were known to exist. The new find takes the number of known legless amphibians in this region to seven.

Rachunliu G. Kamei, Dr. Biju’s Ph.D student and lecturer in St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, spearheaded the research article. The research team had two collaborators from the Natural History Museum, London — David Gower and Mark Wilkinson.

Dr. Biju, an amphibian researcher who has come out with a string of discoveries of new species and even a new family of frogs over the past five years from India, told The Hindu that the latest find was another indication of the yet-to-be fully understood biodiversity of the country.

The team named one of the three species Ichthyophis moustakius, meaning an Ichthyophis with moustache.

The northeast is at the junction of the Indo- Myanmar-Himalaya global biodiversity hotspot.

However, according to Dr. Biju, the biodiversity of this region is dwindling rapidly due to human intervention. All the three species came from an area where forests were being converted into agricultural land, he said.

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