A new ground dwelling lizard was discovered in Mumbai by researchers from Villanova University , USA National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru,  and Bombay Natural History Society. The new species has been named Cyrtodactylus Varadgirii in honor of Bangalore based scientist Varad Giri.

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The lizard was found in Goregaon’s Aarey Colony and Thane’s Badlapur forested belts. It is 130 years after which such a species has been discovered. Ground dwelling lizards such as this are found in leaf littered forests. What makes this particular species unique is that it is also found to live in human inhabited areas.

“This is the result of meticulous efforts of several years by lead author Ishan Agarwal and Aaron Bauer of Villanova University, USA along with Zeeshan Mirza and Anurag Mishra of National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, and Saunak Pal of Bombay Natural History Society,” Giri said.

Earlier, the lizard Cyrtodactylus Varadgirii, or “Giri’s Geckoella” was considered as Geckoella Collegalensis a close cousin. But researcher Ishan Agarwal later confirmed it to be a new species after they conductud DNA analysis and observed the morphological differences.

“This uncommon species is mostly seen moving among the leaf litter on the forest floor. They are active during night and take refuge under rocks and logs during the day. It grows the length of around 6 centimeters,” Giri explained.

This is the third time that a species has been named after the Indian scientist. A newly discovered snake species and another lizard species also carry his name, both endemic to and discovered in the Western Ghats of India in the past 5 years.

Dr. Giri and the lizard named after him. Image courtesy

“This is virtually like a stamp of immortality for the person/s after whom a new species is named, otherwise there are no other accompanying honours or rewards. It draws attention to the fact that besides tigers, there are many other things that need protection from the humans,” Giri added.

There are many more such spectacular species waiting to be discovered in Western Ghats – a biodiversity hotspot of the world.

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About Atula Gupta

Atula Gupta is the Founder and Editor of indiasendangered.com. Her work has appeared in a number of international websites, dailies and magazines including The Wire, Deccan Herald, New Indian Express, Down to Earth and Heritage India on issues related to environment and its conservation. She is also the author of Environment Science Essentials, a set of books for school children. She hopes this website provides a platform for people to be aware about species in the verge of extinction and heighten their conservation efforts.

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