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New lizard species discovered in Arunachal Pradesh

The team found the new skink genus and species under fallen longs in Talle Valley Wildlife Sanctuary
Last Updated : 19 January 2022, 07:02 IST
Last Updated : 19 January 2022, 07:02 IST
Last Updated : 19 January 2022, 07:02 IST
Last Updated : 19 January 2022, 07:02 IST

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A team of researchers from India and Russia has unearthed an unknown group of lizards of the family of skinks from Arunachal Pradesh.

The team comprised researchers from the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore (NCBS), Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai (BNHS), Abasaheb Garware College, Pune (AGC) and Veer Narmad South Gujarat University, Surat (VNSGU) and Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow (LMSU), according to a press statement.

The new genus and species, Protoblepharus Apatani, was discovered by the team who earlier discovered the Salazar pit viper and several other new species of snakes and lizards from the state, which were found during their expedition in 2019. Zeeshan A. Mirza (NCBS), Harshal Bhosale (BNHS) and Gaurang Gowande (AGC), who travelled across Arunachal Pradesh for a month and a half during the months of June to August 2019, led the expedition team.

The team found the new skink genus and species under fallen longs in Talle Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

These lizards are small and active, with a dark brown body with two faint stripes with a brilliant iridescent sheen to their scales.

The team compared the morphological characters, DNA and skull feature to ensure correct identification. Based on preliminary results, the Arunachal skink stood distinct and required a comparison of additional DNA data, which the Russian researchers Andrey Bragin and Nikolay A. Poyarkov provided.

Andrey works on skinks related to the one that was found in Arunachal under the guidance of Nikolay.

Their expertise, coupled with that of Harshil Patel (VNSGU) helped shape and refine the results and a joint paper was submitted which was published in the current issue of the international multidisciplinary journal PeerJ.

Skinks are mostly small-sized lizards, ground-dwelling and mostly seen actively moving among leaf litter during the day.

They are usually more elongate, glossy with distinctly shorter legs. The new species is named after the Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh’s Ziro valley. The authors acknowledge their help, support and hospitality during their stay in Talle Valley.

This is the fifth new species of reptile to be described by the team from surveys made in a single expedition in 2019. The rapid survey yielded five new species in a survey of a month and a half. This highlights the poor nature of herpetofauna documentation in the region.

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Published 19 January 2022, 07:02 IST

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