Bhubaneswar, May 28 (PTI): A new speci of limbless lizard said to be new to science has been located by group of zoologists in Orissa.
“It is an important discovery and preliminary scientific study reveals that the lizard belongs to the genus sepsophis”, Prof Sushil Kumar Dutta of the North Orissa University, Baripada, said.
Dutta, who led a research team of ‘Vasundhara’, a policy analysis, research and action group, on a field study to the Khandadhar hills in Sundargarh district found the limbless lizard during a survey recently.
The lizard, which belonged to the family ‘scincidae’, is new to science and is an important discovery from the biogeographic point of view, Dutta said.
Another speci of the same genus had been reported in 1870 from the golconda hills in Andhra Pradesh after which this is the first time that this limbless lizard had been found and it bears significance from the biodiversity point of view, Dutta said.
“The new speci will be scientifically described at a later stage after accumulation of more scientific data”, Dutta said.
The other limbless lizards recorded from India were of the family ‘dibamidae’ which was found in South East Asia and Nicobar island, ‘anguidae’, recorded from North East India and South East India and the genus ‘barkudia’ (scincidae) discovered in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, he said.
The closest relatives of the new discovery are found in Sri Lanka and South Africa, Dutta said adding this finding was of bio-geographic importance as Sri Lanka and South Africa were also part of Gondwanaland like India.
The new-found 19 cm long lizard looks like a small snake and has lower eyelids, rudimentary ear opening and pectoral bone holes on its shoulders, he said.
It also had scales on both sides of the body, a prominent feature of lizards, he said.
The new speci was quite specialised and preferred to live in cool retreat, soft soil and below stones.
Like its relatives, it lived in forest zones with heavy canopy and could not live in degraded forests where the soil profile changed rapidly.