Four species of reptiles, six species of amphibians, 26 species of fishes, three species of wild ginger and three of figs are among the 445 species new to science identified in India in 2015. The figure includes 262 animal species and 183 plant species.
Some of the notable additions to the list of animals include a rock gecko ( Hemidactylus yajurvedi ) found in Kanker Chhattishgarh, a new frog species ( Fejervarya gomantaki ) from the Western Ghats, and a shiny new species of fish ( Barilius ardens ), also from the Western Ghats.
Among the plants, a new species of ginger Zingiber bipinianum has been found in the South Garo hills of Meghalaya, and a species of mushroom ( Bondarzewia zonata ) has been collected from north Sikkim at an altitude of 2,829 m.
Scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) are delighted that all regions in the country have recorded new species while those from the Zoological Society of India (ZSI) are excited that more than 15 per cent of the new species are higher vertebrates.
The most discoveries were made in the Eastern Himalaya region, which accounts for 19 per cent of the total discoveries followed by the Western Ghats (18 per cent) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands at about 15 per cent, BSI director Paramjit Singh said.
ZSI Director Kailash Chandra said the new discoveries reflect the faunal-diversity potential of ecosystems in India. The country is home to 97,514 species of animals.
The report on animal and plant discoveries of 2015 was released on Friday by Union Minister of State for Environment Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar at an event to mark the conclusion of the centenary celebrations of ZSI. Another important publication — a report on the collection of 4,669 species across 197 genera by taxonomists and scientists of ZSI in the past 100 years — was also released on the occasion.
Lauding the efforts of taxonomists, Mr. Javadekar said no country can progress without the development of pure sciences. The Minister urged the scientists to reach out to students of Class IX and X to inspire them to take up taxonomy.
Mr. Javadekar announced the setting up of two new regional centres of ZSI at Bhuj in Gujarat and Gangtok in Sikkim. At present, the ZSI has 16 regional centres.