As many as 539 new species of plants and animals were discovered by scientists and taxonomists in the country in 2017, say publications from two major survey organisations: the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and the Botanical Survey of India (BSI).
- Plant Discoveries, 2017 lists as many as 239 newly found flora species.
- Besides these discoveries, the biodiversity in the country recorded another 263 species with 174 new records of animals and 89 of plants found.
- The number of discoveries of sub-species and varieties takes the number of floral discoveries to 352.
- Among the animal discoveries are 241 invertebrates. The number of vertebrates discovered includes 27 species of fish, 18 of amphibians and 12 of reptiles.
- The highlight of the animal discoveries is a new fossil reptilian species —Shringasaurus indicus — recorded by scientists of the Kolkata-based Indian Statistical Institute.
- The important discoveries include a frog species, Nasikabatrachus bhupathi ,with snout-shaped nose like a pig and named after Indian herpetologist S. Bhupathy; and a snake, Rhabdops aquaticus , discovered from the northern Western Ghats and deriving its name from the Latin word for water in reference to its presence in freshwater bodies.
- With these discoveries, the number of animal species in India stands at 1,01,167, which is 6.45% of the faunal species found in the world.
- The number of plant species has increased to 49,003, which is 11.4 % of the world flora.
- Among the 352 species and sub-species and varieties of plants, there are 148 flowering plants, 108 macro and micro fungi, four pteridophytes, six bryophytes, 17 lichens, 39 algae and 30 microbes.
- In 2017, scientists discovered some 20 species of balsams and three species each of wild musa (banana) and jamun.
- The BSI publication lists 18 species of grasses discovered under the familyPoaceae and two gymnosperms particularly cycads. In terms of names for the discoveries, Tupistra khasiana , named after the Khasi tribe of the Khasi hills, andDrypetes kalami , named after former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, stand out.
Riches among hills
- The Western Ghats and the Himalayas are home to most of the plant and animal discoveries.
- While the Western Ghats contributed 19% of the discoveries of species and sub-species of plants, the number was 37% in terms of animal discoveries.
- The Himalayas contributed 35% of all plant discoveries (18% of the plant discoveries from the western Himalayas and 17% from the eastern Himalayas).
- In terms of animal discoveries, over 18% of the new species were discovered from both the eastern and western Himalayas.
- Among the States, Kerala recorded the highest number of discoveries — 66 species, sub-species and varieties of plants and 52 species of animals.
- Tamil Nadu recorded 31 new species of animals and 24 species, sub-species and varieties of plants.
- West Bengal, which has the distinction of having both Himalayan and coastal ecosystems, recorded 27 discoveries in categories of plants and 45 discoveries of animal species.