IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

New species of vine snakes discovered

17th November, 2020 Environment

Context: A team of researchers from the Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), after extensive sampling across peninsular India, have discovered new species of vine snakes in the region.

The team carried out field visits across India to collect morphological data, tissue samples and specimens to understand the patterns of distribution and diversification of vine snakes.

Vine snakes are known to be among the most common snakes in peninsular India, found even in many peri-urban areas wherever there is some greenery, and in the Western Ghats.

New species of vine snakes discovered

  • Asian vine snakes, distributed throughout the continent, belong to the genus Ahaetulla and the recently described Proahaetulla.
  • The common green vine snake (Ahaetulla nasuta) in India was a complex of several species.
  • They found four distinct small-bodied and short-nosed species:
    • 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.
  • These species were superficially similar in their morphology, but separated by geographic or ecological barriers.