India logged 248 new species in 2013

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July 13, 2014

These rarest-of-rare species are found in small habitats and most of them are endangered

The Zoological Survey of India has discovered 248 new animal species in different parts of the country in 2013. Of them, 162 are insects, 19 are arachnids, 36 are fish, five are amphibians and two are reptiles.

July 13, 2014

These rarest-of-rare species are found in small habitats and most of them are endangered

The Zoological Survey of India has discovered 248 new animal species in different parts of the country in 2013. Of them, 162 are insects, 19 are arachnids, 36 are fish, five are amphibians and two are reptiles.

“These rarest-of-rare species are found in small habitats and most of them are endangered,” K. Venkataraman, director of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), told The Hindu. Emphasising that such discoveries depend on both chance and expertise, Mr. Venkataraman said the Western Ghats and Eastern Himayala continued to be “hot-spots for these discoveries.”

He pointed out that finding new vertebrate species — from fishes to those higher up in the animal order — was very difficult and such species were very interesting to study. Of the 1.4 million animal species that had been found across the world till December 2013, India, with over 96,000 finds, was home to 7 per cent, Mr. Venkataraman said.

“Invertebrates are very difficult to study and they are in plenty. Of the 96,000 which we have reported, 65,000 are insects,” he said, adding that insects rule the world in terms of numbers. Similarly, molluscs rule the marine world.

Among the new finds, the most interesting is a shieldtail snake, Rhinophis goweri, found in the Bodamalai hills of Tamil Nadu. Of the five species of amphibians, three are found in the north-east — two in Arunachal Pradesh, one in Meghalaya, one in the Eastern Ghats and one from Maharashtra.

The frog found in the Western Ghats in Maharashtra, Raorchestes ghatei, is a new species of shrub frog which inhabits semi-evergreen forests and scrub patches.

Of the 36 species of fish, at least 18 are found in the north-eastern States, four in West Bengal and eight in Kerala.

Scientists at the ZSI have also spotted 54 species earlier found in other parts of the world, for the first time in India. Of these 11 are fish and 21 are insects.

A compilation of the ZSI’s discoveries was published a few weeks ago in a volume titled Animal Discoveries 2013.

“The work on applied aspects of these new species will start soon. Unless we know the species, the next step for scientific research cannot be taken up,” Mr. Venkataraman said, adding that these discoveries can help find new drugs and in access and benefit sharing under the Biological Diversity Act.

At a time when the world’s biodiversity is continuously threatened, with several species on the verge of extinction, Mr. Venkatraman pointed out that that the number of scientists working to discover such new species was also dwindling.


Courtesy: The Hindu

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