A team of researchers discover new species of vine snakes in peninsular India
- The study was led by researchers from the Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES), Indian Institute of Science (IISc)
- The team carried out field visits across India to collect morphological data, tissue samples and specimens to understand the patterns of distribution and diversification of vine snakes
New species of vine snakes
The newly discovered species from the Western Ghats include
- The Northern Western Ghats vine snake (Ahaetulla borealis)
- Farnsworth’s vine snake (Ahaetulla farnsworthi)
- Malabar vine snake (Ahaetulla malabarica) and
- Wall’s vine snake (Ahaetulla isabellina) in the Western Ghats rainforests alone.
These species were superficially similar in their morphology but separated by geographic (or ecological) barriers.
Another morphologically distinct and much larger species, the long-nosed vine snake (Ahaetulla oxyrhyncha), was distributed in the lowlands and drier parts of peninsular India
Further, the team also described the Travancore vine snake (Ahaetulla travancorica), separated by morphology and a geographic barrier from Gunther’s vine snake (Ahaetulla dispar).
They also recognised morphological distinctions between the brown vine snake in the Western Ghats and the one found in Sri Lanka and gave the Western Ghats form a new name (Ahaetulla sahyadrensis)
As per the scientists, there are now six species of vine snakes endemic to the Western Ghats