New Lizard Species Discovered In India Named After Sir David Attenborough

January 24, 2018

A colorful new lizard species has been discovered in the coastal areas of Thiruvananthapuram, the largest city in the Indian state of Kerala.

The lizard is from the genus Sitana and is a fan-throated lizard. Its scientific name, Sitana attenboroughii is a nod to noted British naturalist and broadcaster, sir David Attenborough.

Sitania attenboroughii

Sadasivan Ramesh Palot Ambekar et Mirza

Sitana attenboroughii is a nod to noted British naturalist and broadcaster, sir David Attenborough.

"This is the only beach in southern Thiruvananthapuram where the sand-dune and the lush growth of spiny grasses were noted during the survey and may be the only microhabitat in which Sitania attenboroughii resides. The type locality is under threat from tourism and fires. Immediate efforts must be made to ensure protection to the type locality," the researchers said.

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The lizard is morphologically close to Sitana visir but sports a larger number of ventral scales and a short but richly colored dewlap, the researchers said. 

The Sitana genus is comprised of fan-throated lizards of the family Agamidae. They are native to South Asian countries, including India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Small to medium in size, Sitana lizards are ground dwellers, and eat mostly insects.

The genus is comprised of 11 species:

  • Sitana bahiri 
  • Sitana devakai 
  • Sitana fusca 
  • Sitana laticeps 
  • Sitana marudhamneydhal 
  • Sitana ponticeriana 
  • Sitana schleichi 
  • Sitana sivalensis 
  • Sitana spinaecephalus 
  • Sitana visiri 
  • Sitana attenboroughii 

The team of scientists who made the discovery are  Kalesh Sadasivan and Ramesh M from the Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS) in Thiruvananthapuram; Mohammed Jafer Palot from Zoological Survey of India, Western Ghats Regional Centre, Kozhikode; and Mayuresh Ambedkar and Zeeshan A Mirza from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru.

An abstract of the paper describing the lizard can be read on the Zootaxa website.

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