Two Mumbai researchers were part of a three-member team of Bengaluru-based National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) that discovered a new species of a fan-throated lizard, Sitana dharwarensis, from the barren lands of northern Karnataka’s Bagalkot district.
The study, authored by Mayuresh Ambekar (24), Zeeshan Mirza (32), from Mumbai, and Mangaluru-resident Arya Murthy (17), was published in Bonn zoological Bulletin this week. The new species is similar to a fan-throated lizard species Sitana laticeps. But Sitana dharwarensis bears a much larger throat fan or dewlap. Its distinctness was confirmed after comparing the DNA sequences and micro-CT-scans of the two species.
“We came across this species while conducting a survey of geckos. When we found a difference in characteristics of this gecko, we documented it for the paper,” said Mirza. Its name Sitana dharwarensis has been derived from the Dharwar craton — a piece of the Earth’s crust formed 3.6-2.5 billion years ago.
This is the second species to be discovered from the open scrub and rock terrain of northern Karnataka after Hemidactylus vijayraghavani, a gecko. Many of these newly described species occur outside protected areas and are at risk of being wiped out.
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