New species of vine snakes in peninsular India

Context

Key Findings

  • The team discovered that the common green vine snake (Ahaetulla nasuta) in India was a complex of several species. While four distinct small-bodied and short-nosed species were found in the rainforests of the Western Ghats, another morphologically distinct and much larger species was found across the lowlands and drier parts of peninsular India. new species of vine snakes
  • Entire lineage of vine snakes (Ahaetulla) evolved around 26 million years ago during the mid-Oligocene from its sister group Proahaetulla

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.

The Travancore vine snake (Ahaetulla travancorica)

  • 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).

Key features

  • “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.

Key Fact

  • There are now six species of vine snakes endemic to the Western Ghats.

Source: Indian Express

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