It’s a great time to be a lizard in this country with new species being discovered every year. Yesterday, a new genus of lizard was discovered after 130 years in India and was named after an Indian scientist. Varad Giri, senior scientist at Bombay Natural History Museum had discovered the genus last year in the western ghats of Maharashtra. Zee News reported that, ‘the new species dubbed Cnemaspis Girii, belongs to the genus Cnemaspis or the dwarf geckos and was first spotted near the famous Kaas plateau - or the Valley of Flowers, by a team of young scientists recently.’
Giri has been contributing sincerely to the Indian field of herpetology with his continuous research. The Mumbai based scientists Zeeshan Mirza, Saunak Pal, Rajesh Sanap and Harshal Bhosale from Satara made the discovery through Bangalore`s National Centre for Biological Sciences and Centre for Ecological Sciences. With the guidance they received from Giri they named the gecko after their teacher.
Found in the Goregaons Aarey colony and Badlapur Thane, this gecko is usually found dwelling on the ground. “The species, of the genus Cyrtodactylus known in Southeast Asia, India and Sri Lanka, is a member of the subgenus Geckoella, which are small ground-dwelling geckos largely found in leaf litter in forests,” reported NDTV. They grow upto 6 cms and are active at night. Kaas plateau in the Western Ghats, famous for its flowers, are also a fertile ground for lizard species. NDTV also reported that, “He said this species is found in localities like Sanjay Gandhi National Park in north Mumbai, the Aarey Colony which houses the Film City in Goregaon, a few localities in Nanded, Chandrapur and Amaravati districts and few localities in Gujarat.’
Many lizards and snakes have been named after him in the last five years. “In a rare international honour, this is the third time after a new snake species and a lizard species - both endemic and discovered from the biodiversity rich Western Ghats of Maharashtra-Karnataka region - that a species has been named after Giri in the past five years. “This is virtually like a stamp of immortality for the person/s after whom a new species is named, otherwise there are no other accompanying honours or rewards. It draws attention to the fact that besides tigers, there are many other things that need protection from the humans,” Giri said in a wire report published by Times of India.
Mid Day reported about the study conducted by Giri and scientist V Deepak which found five more fan throated species of lizards in India. “India has a rich diversity of amphibians and reptiles and more than 50% species are endemic to this region. It should be noted that the present knowledge about the diversity of amphibians and reptiles in India is mainly based on the studies conducted prior to independence,” the researchers told mid day. It said that ‘This study highlights the need of conducting intensive studies in arid landscapes, which appear to abode a cryptic diversity of lizards.’
An International scientific journal Zootaxa covered this news and the journal ‘Contributions to Zoology’ published the scientific paper by Giri and Deepak.
Feature Image Courtesy: DNA
Words: Preksha Malu