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Lizard species rediscovered after 135 years

Mumbai, March 26, 2013, Mumbai: 0:06 IST
In 1877, British Colonel R H Beddome spotted and collected a gecko from Jeypore Hills in Orissa and named it Jeypore Ground Gecko. Since then it had never been found and thought to be long extinct.

One hundred and thirty-three years later, scientists from Bangalore-based Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES) Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, along with naturalists from Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) after two years of search spotted this enigmatic lizard in the Eastern Ghats running through Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.

Research scholar from CES Ishan Agarwal talking to Deccan Herald from Bangalore over phone, said: “We first spotted this species ( Geckoella jeyporensis) in 2010 and then again another one next year.

It was really a long, long search. We just had Col Beddome’s description and that he had found under a rock forest at 4,200 ft on Patinghe Hill in Jeypore.”

Agarwal said the discovery has now been accepted in the academic circles and has also been published in the “Hamadryad Journal” (published by Centre for Herpetology.) “When we (a four-member team) started our search, we were not optimistic but after days of search we spotted one in Orissa and then next year another team was formed and we began our search in Andhra Pradesh,” Agarwal said.

Describing the Jeypore Ground Gecko as “one of the most beautiful Indian geckos,” the herpetologist said: “It has an orange-brown dorsum and chocolate brown dorsal blotches. The species it seems has a specialised habitat located above 1,000 metre elevation in the Eastern Ghats.”

The discovery apart from unravelling the evolutionary history of the species, indicates that the Eastern Ghats have more biodiversity than “it is assumed to be,” underscoring the need for a basic biodiversity inventory across India. There is a need for trained biologists to undertake country-wide surveys on a number of roups as the discovery of Jeypore Ground Gecko is a case in point,” Agarwal said.

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