New species of burrowing snake discovered in Western Ghats

Mar 8, 2016 15:13 IST

A group of Indian and British researchers discovered a new species of burrowing snake in the Western Ghats.

The snake has been named after well known herpetologist from Maharashtra, Neelam Kumar Khaire, as Melanophidium Khairei.

The research paper about it has been published in the scientific journal, Zootaxa in the first week of March 2016.

The discovery is the result of the collaborative efforts of scientists from Natural History Museum (NHM), London, National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore, the Indian Herpetological Society (IHS), Pune, and the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).

Researchers were studying the species since 2001 and confirmed the new species.

Key facts related to Melanophidium Khairei

The genus Melanophidium, commonly referred to as Black shieldtail, is endemic to the Western Ghats.

Three species of the genus were previously known.

The new species, Melanophidium khairei is distinct from three other species.

Melanophidium khairei is a highly iridescent burrowing snake that inhabits evergreen forests.

It is rarely seen above ground.

It eats earthworms and is believed to bear young as mammals.

At present, it is known in a few locations in southern Maharashtra, Goa and northern Karnataka.

It is a small snake. The largest known specimen is 550 mm in length.

It is non-venomous.

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