Genus named after India's leading conservationist

Famous conservationist Varad Giri gets genus named after him

Genus is a principal taxonomic category that ranks above species and below family, and is denoted by a capitalised Latin name

'Varadia amboliensis', a new genus and species has been described. Credit: Facebook/Varad Giri

India’s leading herpetologist and conservationist Dr Varad Giri now has a genus named after him.

Genus is a principal taxonomic category that ranks above species and below family, and is denoted by a capitalised Latin name.

'Varadia amboliensis', a new genus and species has been described, referring to 'Varad Giri' and 'Amboli' in the coastal Sindhudurg district of the Konkan belt of Maharashtra.

Reacting to the honour, Giri said, “Genus is named in honour of my minuscule contribution to Indian herpetology and supporting young researchers in whatever way I can. Thank you all for considering me worth this recognition.” Earlier, a snake species had been named after him — “Dendrepahis girii”, popularly known as Giri’s bronzeback tree snake.

Giri currently works as a senior scientist with the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).

Bhosale also presented a paper 'Varadia, a new helicarionoidean semi-slug genus from India’s Western Ghats (Stylommatophora: Helicarionoidea)' in the European Journal of Taxonomy.

Bhosale said, “A new genus and new species of semi-slug as Varadia amboliensis gen. et sp. nov. from Hiranyakeshi Temple in Amboli, Maharashtra, India. Genus is named in honor of the herpetologist Dr Varad Giri, who has made a major contribution to the modern study and conservation of the Indian herpetofauna. Species is named after the type locality, Amboli, in the Sindhudurg District of southern Maharashtra, India.”

Further describing the species, Bhosale said, “Varadia amboliensis has unique morphological as well as reproductive characteristics. You can easily differentiate it from the species of Macrochlamys genus by having glossy grey to greyish colour, broad polishing shell lobes which cover most of the shell surface, and different reproductive systems. This species is primarily ground living encountered at night in leaf litter, rocks, the base of the tree and also observed on compound walls close to the forest edge.”

This species is endemic to the northern and central Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is recorded from five localities and is omnivorous in the diet. It has been observed feeding on leaf litter, banana peel, dead cricket, and earthworm. On the basis of reproductive characteristics, this snail is included in the Macrochlamydinae (Ariophantidae).

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