Discoveries of India

Priyanka Kotamraju | Updated on September 12, 2014

Coral draw: A bleached coral colony in Kavaratti, Lakshadweep Islands. Photo: Zoological Survey of India

Great Nicobar Crake   -  Rajesh Kumar S/BLink

Glad tidings from the Zoological Survey of India

In just 2.2 per cent of the world’s total land surface, India is home to 92,279 animal species i.e. over 7.52 per cent of faunal diversity, and about two times the present number of species are waiting to be discovered. As per Zoological Survey of India’s latest animal discovery report, 133 animal species new to science in 19 categories— unicellular organisms, fish, crabs and a bird — were discovered and reported for the first time. Of the 109 species discovered that are entirely new to the Indian terrain, 42 species of corals have been identified that add to the marine diversity of India.

•SPOTTED: A new species of bird in the Great Nicobar Islands. The first new bird species to be discovered since independence, the Great Nicobar Crake, of the Rallidae family, is described by scientists as a “combination of pale green bill, black-banded under parts and heavy orange-red legs”, the bill thick and short, neck somewhat long and a rich rufescent plumage. Initial studies have revealed that it cannot fly and is camera-shy. The scientists managed to get just one photo.

•AT RITCHIE’S: Climate change and the tsunami may have sounded the death knell for marine biodiversity but the Zoological Survey of India has found resurgence in marine life on the east coast of India. In just one year, 42 species, new to India, of hard and soft corals have been discovered at the Havelock Island wall in Ritchie’s Archipelago.

•AMPHIBIAN TALES: Two new species of amphibians have been discovered — the Kakachi shrub frog from the Western Ghats and a caecilian (limbless) amphibian from Kerala. Named Raorchestes kakachi, the small-sized frog from Kakachi tea estate is described as having an oval snout, moderate webbing and colour varying from ivory to brown.

•SOMETHING FISHY: Of the 19 new species of fish discovered, 13 are from the Northeast and four from different parts of the Western Ghats. Scientists have also discovered a freshwater crab from Ganjam in Odisha and a freshwater shrimp from the Vamanapuram River in Kerala. The Ganjam crab, Oziotelphusa ganjamensis, inhabiting the rice fields of Odisha was known to local farmers but new to the scientific community.

•ARACHNID RICH: Of the four new species of spiders discovered, three are from Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. The newly identified species belong to a new genus Neoheterophrictus, close to an existing genus of spiders. The newly found genus is described as Gondwana relic i.e. species having ancestors in Africa. Presence of such connections adds to the theory of the super continent Gondwanaland and its constituents.

Published on January 25, 2014

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