The discovery of the new burrowing snake – named after well known herpetologist Neelam Kumar Khaire – in the biological hotspot comes after 144 years
In a major achievement, researchers have discovered a new ѕрeсіeѕ of burrowing snake in the biological hotspot of the northern Western Ghats, after a gap of 144 years. The snake has been named after well known herpetologist from Maharashtra, Neelam Kumar Khaire, as Melanophidium Khairei. The research paper about it has been published in the scientific journal, Zootaxa recently.
Speaking to mid day, researcher and post doctoral fellow from the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Varad Giri said, “We are happy to announce that our team of researchers have discovered a new ѕрeсіeѕ of burrowing snake of the genus Melanophidium from the northern Western Ghats of India after a gap of 144 years. This snake belongs to the family Uropeltidae, and all ѕрeсіeѕ in this group are burrowers and live mostly underground.”
“We have befittingly named the new ѕрeсіeѕ after Neelam Kumar (Anna) Khaire, in recognition of his contribution to the knowledge, appreciation and conservation of snakes in India,” added Giri.
Khaire’s Black ShieldtailIt is a highly iridescent burrowing snake that inhabits evergreen forests and is rarely seen above ground. It eats earthworms and is believed to bear young as mammals. It’s presently known in a few locations in southern Maharashtra, Goa and northern Karnataka. It is a small snake – the largest known specimen is 550mm in length. It is non-ⱱeпomoᴜѕ.
Chance discoveryThe new burrowing snake would not have been discovered but for the visit of Dr David Gower to the BNHS museum. He realized the specimens of the ѕрeсіeѕ in the BNHS were wrongly іdeпtіfіed.
“The genus Melanophidium, commonly referred as ‘Black Shieldtail’, is endemic to the Western Ghats and three ѕрeсіeѕ were previously known. Dr Gower observed the first specimens of this ѕрeсіeѕ in the collections of the BNHS, during his visit to their museum in 2001. However, they were wrongly іdeпtіfіed as Melanophidium Punctatum, commonly called the Pied-bellied Shieldtail. He realized that the specimens in BNHS were a distinct ѕрeсіeѕ,” said a researcher.