KERALA

New species of lizard discovered

Sitana attenboroughii.

Sitana attenboroughii.  

Sitana attenboroughii has been named after Sir David Frederick Attenborough

The coastal belt of Thiruvananthapuram is home to many rare species of animals, a discovery by a group of researchers has proved.

The team had discovered a new species of fan-throated lizard, belonging to the genus Sitana , from Poovar during an expedition that was undertaken during September-October 2016. The finding has now been published in the latest issue of peer-reviewed journal Zootaxa.

The researchers’ team comprises Kalesh Sadasivan and M. Ramesh, representing the Thiruvananthapuram-based Travancore Nature History Society, and Jafer Palot of the Western Ghats Regional Centre of the Zoological Survey of India in Kozhikode. They collaborated with Mayuresh Ambedkar and Zeeshan A. Mirza of the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, for the expedition.

The new species, Sitana attenboroughii, has been named after Sir David Frederick Attenborough, an English veteran broadcaster and naturalist. This is the first species of the genus Sitana to be recorded from Kerala.

According to the researchers, fan-throated lizards are small to medium-sized lizards that are ground-dwelling and are usually found in dry, scrubby, open habitats. The males possess a fan-like extension that they protrude during breeding season as a part of courtship and territorial display.

They also found that the Poovar is the only beach in southern Thiruvananthapuram where sand-dunes and the lush growth of spiny grasses were noted during the survey and could also be the only micro-habitat in which Sitania attenboroughii resided. With such habitats in the locality coming under threats caused by tourism and fire, immediate conservation efforts were needed, they said.

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