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Mumbai scientist gets new lizard species named after him

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - 19:59

Zee Media Bureau

Mumbai: Varad B Giri, senior scientist at the Bombay Natural History Society has been honoured with a new species of gecko, named after him, which he discovered last year from the Western Ghats in Maharashtra.

The new species dubbed Cnemaspis Girii, belongs to the genus Cnemaspis or the dwarf geckos and was first spotted near the famous Kaas plateau - or the Valley of Flowers, by a team of young scientists.

“The new species belongs to the genus Cnemaspis, or the dwarf geckos and was first found in January 2013 in the lateritic plateaus here. The unique feature of these geckos of the genus Cnemaspis is a rounded pupil in their eyes," Varad B Giri was quoted as saying to IANS Wednesday.
The four scientists from Bangalore`s National Centre for Biological Sciences and Centre for Ecological Sciences - Zeeshan Mirza, Saunak Pal, Rajesh Sanap, all from Mumbai, and Harshal Bhosale from Satara, were guided by Giri.

As a tribute to their "guru", they decided to name it as Cnemaspis Girii for his immense contribution to Indian herpetology.

The senior scientist already has a snake species named after him in 2012 - Dendrelathis Girii, which he discovered from the Western Ghats in the same year.

C. Girii inhibits the dense evergreen forests along the streams and rivulets in Kaas plateau - famous as Valley of Flowers - in Satara district. It`s part of the 1,600-km-long Western Ghats stretching from Kerala, across Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, to Gujarat.
Scientists said C. Girii was first noticed in 2010 and was different from the two species of this genus (Cnemaspis), which was known from south Maharashtra.

To compare the new species, Mirza and Sanap visited the London Natural History Museum and examined species of related geckos collected from India.

The team also carried out further research and field studies to conclude this species was found only along the forest stream and not on the Kaas plateau, making it vital from the viewpoint of conservation.

“The plateaus here support a high degree of endemic fauna which still remains poorly documented,” said Sanap on the endeavour.

“The new discovery highlights the need for dedicated surveys across the north Western Ghats to document the diversity of reptiles as many narrowly distributed species would fall prey to the ever increasing anthropogenic pressure,” suggests Giri.

Confirming the new species discovery, a research paper has been published in an international journal Zootaxa published Tuesday.

(With Agency Inputs)

First Published: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - 19:59

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