Eastern Ghats Current Affairs - 2019
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Scientists have discovered new species of gecko in the Eastern Ghats in northern Andhra Pradesh. It was identified from few areas in northern Mahendragiri range and scattered coastal hills in northern Andhra Pradesh.
The new species has been named Hemidactylus sushilduttai or Dutta’s Mahendragiri gecko, after eminent herpetologist Sushil Kumar Dutta from Odisha.
Dutta’s Mahendragiri gecko is second gecko endemic to this hilly range and third vertebrate as other endemics in region are — Gegeneophis orientalis — caecilian amphibian and Jeypore Indian gecko (Cyrtodactylus jeyporensis. It grows up to 225mm in length with its tail half its size. It is nocturnal and lives on rocks, large trees and coffee plantations at altitudes between 250-1,100 metres above sea level.
The reptile was earlier identified as different species and was misidentified as spotted rock gecko (Hemidactylus maculatus), a large-bodied lizard endemic to northern Western Ghats in Maharashtra. However, after studying its DNA, it was found that morphological characters of new species has many unique, diagnostic characters and these two species have geographically separated populations that deeply divergent from each other.
Dutta’s Mahendragiri gecko is the 32nd species of house geckos (Hemidactylus) from India and among the largest in its genus. The genus has around 90 species across the world. This discovery highlights the importance of conserving this mountainous forest region of Easter Ghats as a biodiversity hotspot as most of conservation efforts are concentrated on the Western Ghats.
Researchers have discovered new species of gecko at Chhattisgarh’s Kanger Ghati National Park in Eastern Ghats. It common name is the Kanger valley rock gecko and scientific name is Hemidactylus kangerensis, named after the valley were it was discovered.
Kanger valley rock gecko
Kanger valley rock gecko is fairly large and can grow to over eight inches long. It has distinct black-bordered beige bands from its neck to its tail tip and specific scales on its thighs. It differs from other gecko species in a distinct banded patterns and number of pore less scales separating femoral pores on the thigh.
It is also found in Jagdalpur and Sukma districts in Chhattisgarh and in Khamman in Telangana, which are part of Eastern Ghats. The discovery of new gecko species highlights need for dedicated surveys across Eastern Ghats, where biodiversity has not been quantified too well and need for protection from various anthropogenic pressures.