Sunday, February 26, 2012

[Herpetology • 2011] Ichthyophis davidi | Chorla giant striped Ichthyophis • the largest striped Ichthyophis caecilian (Gymnophiona: Ichthyophiidae) from the Western Ghats of India

The Western Ghats, a hill chain of 1600 km running parallel to the west coast of India, is one of the amphibian hotspots. Gymnophiona in the Western Ghats is represented by 23 species, which 12 belong to Ichthyophiidae and 11 species to Caeciliidae. Under Ichthyophiidae, Ichthyophis and Uraeotyphlus
are the two genera containing five and seven species respectively. In the genus Ichthyophis, two forms of species are categorized: monocoloured species and species with yellow stripes. A total of four striped caecilians, namely  Ichthyophis beddomei Peters, 1879 (Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu), Ichthyophis tricolor Annandale, 1909 (Kerala), Ichthyophis longicephalus Pillai, 1986 (Kerala) and Ichthyophis kodaguensis Wilkinson, Gower, Govindappa and Venkatachalaiah, 2007 (Karnataka and Kerala), and a monocoloured species  Ichthyophis bombayensis Taylor, 1960  (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala) were described from the Western Ghats. 
During our search for these subterranean, secretive vertebrates in the North Karnataka parts of the Western Ghats, we collected five specimens resembling each other which fit the generic diagnosis by Pillai and Ravichandran for Ichthyophis, but differ from all known striped caecilians of the Western Ghats, 
including the recent description by Wilkinson  et al. Our collections from northern Karnataka have a distinctive combination of features that distinguish them from all other described striped Ichthyophis, and here we describe this form as a new species.

Etymology: The species is named in honour of David Gower, Department of Zoology, The Natural History Museum, London, in recognition of his contributions to Indian caecilian studies and we suggest the common name ‘Chorla giant striped Ichthyophis’. 

Bhatta, Gopalakrishna; Dinesh, K. P.; Prashanth, P.; Kulkarni, Nirmal; Radhakrishnan, C. 2011. A new caecilian Ichthyophis davidi sp. nov. (Gymnophiona: Ichthyophiidae): the largest striped caecilian from the Western Ghats. Scientific Correspondence. 101 (08): 1015–1019.

The Hindu : States / Kerala : New amphibian discovered