5 new species of reptiles that give birth to their young ones

News Excerpt:

In a study, a team from the Thackeray Wildlife Foundation (TWF) discovered the first-ever viviparous skink genus and five new species belonging to it from peninsular India.

Key Points:

  • The viviparous skinks - a reptile that gives birth to young ones - have been found in the forests of Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Maharashtra.
  • The findings - “A non-adaptive radiation of viviparous skinks from the seasonal tropics of India: Systematics of Subdoluseps (Squamata: Scincidae), with a description of a new genus and five cryptic new species” - have been published in the scientific journal, Vertebrate Zoology.

Key Findings:

  • The researchers have named the new genus 'Dravidoseps', a combination of the Sanskrit words 'Dravid' and ‘Seps'. 
    • This genus ‘Dravidoseps’ is distinct from the genus ‘Subdoluseps’, as it gives birth to its young—instead of laying eggs.
  • All the five newly discovered species are from the state of Tamil Nadu and have been christened as: 
    • ‘Dravidoseps gingeeensis’ (from the Gingee Hills), 
    • ‘Dravidoseps jawadhuensis’ (Jawadhu Hills), 
    • ‘Dravidoseps kalakadensis’ (Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve), 
    • ‘Dravidoseps srivilliputhurensis’ (Srivilliputhur Megamalai Tiger Reserve) and 
    • ‘Dravidoseps tamilnaduensis’ (Kolli, Pachaimalai and Yercaud Hills).
  • The species ‘Dravidoseps gouensis, included in the new genus, has been recorded from Utsum in North Goa as well as Sindhudurg (Amboli) and Kolhapur districts of Maharashtra.
  • Discovered through TWF’s lizard project in Tamil Nadu, Dravidoseps is now the most diverse endemic skink genus in the region, with seven species in Tamil Nadu and one in Goa and southern Maharashtra.
  • This discovery is significant, considering only five skink species were described from India in the last around 40 years, including just two from peninsular India.

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