Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 25th, 2007
A relative of the recently found Gegeneophis mhadeiensis (shown above), is the newly discovered Gegeneophis goaensis.
In the February 1999 issue of National Geographic Magazine, Goa was compared with the Amazon and Congo basins for its rich tropical biodiversity. It still is giving up some of its secrets.
This new animal discovery is from Goa (see map below). An intriguing other recent find there was of an ethnoknown cryptid said to be have been a “two-headed snake,” the Kadu.
Zoologists claimed to have discovered a new species of legless amphibian in northern Karnataka which vacates its marshy habitat at the slightest hint of pollution.
Two independent researchers who teamed up with scientists from the Zoological Survey of India came across the unique species at the Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary which falls in the biodiversity-rich Western Ghats region.
“It is commonly known as a two-headed snake but a closer look brings out the ringed nature of the amphibian creature,” Gopalkrishna Bhatta, an independent researcher, told PTI from Shimoga in Karnataka.
Besides Bhatta, K P Dinesh of the Zoological Survey of India, P Prashanth of the Agumbe Rain forest Research Station and another independent researcher Goa-based Nirmal Kulkarni took part in the study.
“We recently collected three specimens resembling each other which fit the generic diagnosis for genus Gegeneophis, but which differ from all known species,” they said in a research communication published in today’s issue of “Current Science”.
A new species of caecilian, a legless amphibian, has been named Gegeneophis mhadeiensis. It is described on the basis of three specimens collected from the surroundings of Rameshwar temple in Chorla village of Belgaum district. The locality is situated adjacent to the Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary.
The creature feeds in earthworms and other decaying material and helps enriching the soil, Bhatta said.“Researchers discover new species of legless amphibian,” The Hindu, November 25, 2007.
Further detailed information about a geographically aligned species of Gegeneophis mhadeiensis, the also newly discovered Gegeneophis goaensis can be found at a Goa wildlife diversity website:
A new species of legless amphibian (commonly known Kadu) has been discovered and described from two sites namely the orchard of Sanjay Rama Parodkar and a site near the home of noted environmentalist Rajendra P. Kerkar of Keri Village, Sattari Taluka, North Goa.
The research team led by Dr. Gopalakrishna Bhat, Professor of Zoology, M.G.M.College, Udupi, Karnataka and consisting of Dinesh K.P. from the Zoological Survey of India, Nirmal Kulkarni, Goan researcher working in the Mahadayi region and Prashanth P. of the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station.
Dr. Bhat and his team encountered two individuals of this animal in 2004 and the team was in search for many more individuals to confirm that they are new to science. Their continuous field visits and surveys to the sites from 2004 to 2006 in the Monsoons and thereafter ultimately enabled them to find and study few more individuals in this year.
Caecilians are the least known and studied of Amphibians in the world and are presently known from some regions in the wet tropics, some sub tropical regions except Madagascar, South Esat Asia and Australia.
In India, the Western Ghats of which Goa is a part has been repeatedly acknowledged as a haven for varied Caecilian species but very little scientific work has been carried out on them due to their secretive nature and the lack of sensitivity for lesser known species of this group of creatures.
Being legless, burrowing, nocturnal and earthworm/snake like in appearance to the laypersons, these animals are important indicators of healthy ecosystems and are characterized by minute eyes and rings (Or annuli) around the body. They are non-venomous and does not cause bite to humans or cattle as is believed in some localities in Goa.
The individuals of the current species were found under rotting vegetation kept for compost under saplings of a mixed orchard of arecanut, banana, coconut and pepper is owned by Mr. Sanjay Rama Parodkar from Keri village and also under rotting coconut leaves stacked for compost near the home of Mr. Rajendra Kerkar.
The molecular study has confirmed that this is a new species and is thus an addition to the existing seven species of the Genus of Gegeneophis which is an endemic genus to the Western Ghats of India.
It is important to note that the species was hitherto unknown to science and has been documented in the area bordering the forests of Mahadayi Wildlife Sanctuary, which proves that this region is a storehouse of biodiversity, some of which is yet to be discovered and documented.
The present new species is credited after the state and named as Gegeneophis goaensis. This is probably the first amphibian species to have been named after the state of Goa, which is known for its diversity of amphibian species. It may be remembered that Dr. Bhat had earlier discovered Gegneophis nadkarnii from Bondla Wildlife sanctuary in the year 2004.
The research paper about Gegneophs goaensis has been accepted by the internationally reputed journal Zootaxa, of New Zealand for publication.
The team has thanked the Goa Forest Department, members of Vivekanand Environment Awareness Brigade and Mahadayi Bachao Abhiyaan and the people of Goa for their support and help in the last 3 years for this study and research. ~ by Dr. G K Bhatt, K.P.Dinesh, P. Prashant, Nirmal Kulkarni, “A new Caecilian (legless amphibian) described from Keri village Sattari Goa,” Save Goa site.
Update: Chad Arment on his private list says:
I’m going to disagree with this — it is unlikely this caecilian was ethnoknown.
1) The ‘two-headed snake’ reference is to caecilians in general. (from, “It is commonly known as a two-headed snake but a closer look brings out the ringed nature of the amphibian creature,” Gopalkrishna Bhatta, an independent researcher, told PTI from Shimoga in Karnataka.) ‘Two-headed snake’ is fairly common as a descriptive term for caecilians, some amphisbaenids, a few burrowing snakes.
2) Kadu also appears to be a generic term for caecilians, not specifically applied to this species. (“A new species of legless amphibian (commonly known Kadu) has been discovered and described from two sites…”) There appears to be an etymological link to “forest,” which is termed Kadu in south India; the newspaper here has either incorrectly given the term, or the term is used with more than one meaning. In either case, there’s no available evidence this new caecilian was previously ethnoknown. ~ Chad Arment
Maybe Chad is correct, although the generic use of Kadu may refer to “snake,” not the “forest” usage.
Apparently the Brahminy blind snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus, a/k/a Typhlops braminus) in the Sangli district of India are also locally called Kadu.
Perhaps some Indian readers or anyone who has studied the reptiles and amphibians of Goa could enlighten all of us?