New snake species discovered in Western Ghats


A team of researchers from UK and India have discovered a new snake species in northern Western Ghats recently.
It is a burrowing snake of the Melanophidium genus and belongs to the Uropeltidae family of snakes.
All species of this group are burrowers that live mostly underground. It is distinct from three other species of the similar genus.
The discovery of the new burrowing snake – named after well known herpetologist Neelam Kumar Khaire - in the biological hotspot comes after 144 years -The snake has been named after well known herpetologist from Maharashtra, Neelam Kumar Khaire,( founder of Katraj Snake Park,) as Melanophidium Khairei. The research paper about it has been published in the scientific journal, Zootaxa recently.
The discovery is the result of meticulous efforts of scientists from Natural History Museum (NHM), London; National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore; the Indian Herpetological Society (IHS), Pune; and the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), since last 15 years (Researchers were studying the species since 2001 and confirmed the new species).

First author Dr David Gower and Dr Mark Wilkinson from NHM, Ashok Captain of IHS/BNHS and Varad Giri a post doctoral fellow of NCBS constituted the team. The occurrence of new snake species was recorded around 144 years ago, however, at that time, researchers could not shed more light on the species.
Varad Giri, NCBS postdoctoral fellow, said that the species was discovered in the forest areas of Radhanagari in Kolhapur, Amboli in Sindhudurg and the adjoining forests in Goa.
"This discovery is the result of meticulous efforts over fifteen years by first author David Gower from Natural History Museum," he said. The research was equally supported by Mark Wilkinson of NHM, Giri and Ashok Captain of BNHS.The new discovery came barely two days after another Indian team of researchers discovered a new snake genus and a species from Gujarat, which has been named Wallaceophis Gujaratenisis

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