IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


23rd January, 2024 Environment


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  • A team of researchers has discovered the first-ever viviparous skink genus along with five new species in the peninsular region of India.
  • These species include 'Dravidoseps gingeeensis,' 'Dravidoseps jawadhuensis,' 'Dravidoseps kalakadensis,' 'Dravidoseps srivilliputhurensis,' and 'Dravidoseps tamilnaduensis.'


  • Viviparous skinks, reptiles capable of giving birth to live young, were found inhabiting the forests of Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Maharashtra.


  • The newly identified genus is named 'Dravidoseps,' derived from the Sanskrit words 'Dravid' and 'Seps.'

Distinct Characteristics of 'Dravidoseps':

  • What sets 'Dravidoseps' apart is its viviparous nature, meaning it gives birth to live offspring instead of laying eggs.
  • This distinctive feature marks a departure from the previously known genus, 'Subdoluseps.' The discovery also highlights other notable differences in characteristics.

Expanded Geographic Range and Significance:

  • The species 'Dravidoseps gouensis,' belonging to the new genus, was found in North Goa and specific districts in Maharashtra.
  • The discovery now positions 'Dravidoseps' as the most diverse endemic skink genus in the region, boasting seven species in Tamil Nadu and one each in Goa and southern Maharashtra.



  • Definition: Skinks refer to a family of lizards belonging to the family Scincidae, comprising more than 1,500 species.
  • Distribution: They are found in various habitats globally, with a diverse range from deserts to forests.

Physical Characteristics:

  • Limbs: Most skinks have reduced limbs or are entirely limbless, giving them a snake-like appearance.
  • Scales: Their overlapping, shiny scales provide a protective covering.
  • Tail Autotomy: Skinks can shed their tails as a defense mechanism, and the tails may regenerate.


  • Viviparity: Some skinks, like the recently discovered genus 'Dravidoseps,' exhibit viviparity, giving birth to live young rather than laying eggs.
  • Oviparity: Others lay eggs, with some species featuring hard-shelled eggs.


  • Carnivorous: Skinks are primarily carnivores, feeding on insects, worms, small vertebrates, and plant matter.
  • Foraging: They use their keen sense of smell and sight to locate prey.


  • Diversity: Skinks inhabit a wide range of environments, including tropical rainforests, deserts, grasslands, and rocky areas.
  • Burrowing: Some species are adept burrowers, creating tunnels in the ground.

Importance in Research:

  • Scientific Significance: Skinks, being a diverse family, contribute significantly to reptilian biodiversity studies.
  • Discoveries: Recent findings, such as the discovery of the viviparous skink genus 'Dravidoseps,' showcase ongoing research.

Threats and Conservation:

  • Habitat Loss: Skinks, like many reptiles, face threats due to habitat destruction and climate change.
  • Conservation Efforts: Conservation initiatives are crucial to preserving skink species and maintaining ecological balance.

Popular Skink Species:

  • Blue-Tongued Skink: Recognizable by their blue tongues and relatively large size.
  • Five-Lined Skink: Commonly found in North America, featuring distinctive stripes.
  • Fire Skink: Known for its vibrant coloration, native to West Africa.

Human Interaction:

  • Pet Trade: Some skink species are popular in the exotic pet trade, requiring specialized care.
  • Role in Ecosystem: Skinks play a role in controlling insect populations, contributing to ecosystem balance.


Q. Consider the following statements.

1.Skinks are exclusively herbivorous and known for their preference for forested habitats.

2.'Dravidoseps' is a genus characterized by viviparity and is found in the forests of Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Maharashtra.

3.Skinks are characterized by reduced limbs or complete limblessness, resembling a snake-like appearance.

How many of the above statements are correct?

a) Only 1

b) Only 2

c) Only 3

d) All

Answer a) Only 1


  • Statement 1 is incorrect. Skinks are primarily carnivores, feeding on insects, worms, small vertebrates, and plant matter, not exclusively herbivorous. They have a diverse diet that includes both animal and plant matter.
  • Statement 2 is correct. 'Dravidoseps' is indeed a genus characterized by viviparity, and it was found in the forests of Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Maharashtra, as mentioned in the note.
  • Statement 3 is correct. Skinks are indeed characterized by reduced limbs or complete limblessness, resembling a snake-like appearance. This statement is accurate.

Therefore, out of the three statements, 1 is incorrect. The correct answer is a) Only 1