New species of “Asian gracile skink” found from Western Ghats

What is the News?

A new species of an Asian gracile skink has been discovered recently at Anaikatti hills, Coimbatore.

About the new species of Asian gracile skink:

Asian gracile skink

Source: The Hindu

  • The New Species of Asian Gracile Skink has been named Subdoluseps nilgiriensis after Nilgiris. The species is closely related to Subdoluseps pruthi found in parts of the Eastern Ghats.
  • Features: The species has a slender body of just about 7 cm. It is sandy brown in colour. The unnoticeable limbs of skinks make them resemble snakes.
  • Protection Status: Subdoluseps nilgiriensis is currently considered a vulnerable species.
  • Significance: This species is only the third skink species discovered from mainland India in the last millennium.
  • Threats:
    • Seasonal forest fires
    • Housing constructions and brick kiln industries in the area.
    • Rapid urbanisation has also increased the road networks in the area.
Significance of this discovery:
  • The new species of Skink was found in a dry deciduous area. This shows that even the dry zones of our country are home to unrealised skink diversity. So these regions needs to be further explored.
    • Hence, there is an urgent need to change the notion that high biodiversity can be found only in wet and evergreen forests.
  • Further, most of the studies in Tamil Nadu are carried out only in the protected areas and focus only on megafaunas such as tigers, elephants and other such charismatic species.
    • However, we also need to study the little-known animal groups inside our forests. They are fundamental and indispensable components of our biodiversity.
About Skinks:
  • Skinks are lizards belonging to the family Scincidae, a family in the infraorder Scincomorpha.
  • Features: Skinks are characterized by their smaller legs in comparison to typical lizards. They are mostly found in a variety of habitats except for arctic and subarctic regions.
  • Behaviour: Many species of skink does digging and burrowing. They also spend the majority of their time underground. As they can stay safe from predators and the underground tunnels also help them with easy navigation.
  • Diet: Skinks are generally carnivorous and in particular insectivorous. They are known to feed on insects such as termites, crickets and small spiders.
  • Most skinks are diurnal and are usually secretive in their habits. So not much is known about their natural and evolutionary history.
  • The skinks are also non-venomous. They resemble snakes because of the inconspicuous limbs and the way they move on land.
  • Protection Status: Most of the species are placed under the data-deficient category.

Source: The Hindu



Forest Survey of India

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