New species of fan-throated lizard discovered in northern Karnataka

A new species of fan-throated lizard has been described from the arid lands of Bagalkot district in northern Karnataka.

The new species has been named ‘Sitana dharwarensis’ – derived from the Dharwar craton – a piece of the earth’s crust which dates back to 2-3 billion years ago, according to a press release issued in Mumbai.

Mayuresh Ambekar, Arya Murthy and Zeeshan Mirza are the authors of the study which was published this week in the international journal Bonn Zoological Bulletin.

Mumbaikars Mayuresh Ambekar and Zeeshan Mirza are researchers at the National Center for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bengaluru and Arya is a class 12 student at Inventure Academy.

The new species is quite similar to a species of fan-throated lizard called Sitana laticeps, however, the new species bears a much larger throat fan or dewlap. The distinction between the new species was confirmed after comparing DNA sequences and micro-CT scans of the two species.

It is the second species discovered in the open scrub and rocky terrain of northern Karnataka after Hemidactylus Vijayraghavani, a gecko.

Many of these newly described species are found outside protected areas and in most localities local populations are at risk of being wiped out.

A management plan for unprotected areas, in particular wasteland and scrubland otherwise qualified as wasteland and considered less rich in biodiversity, must be drawn up to ensure the protection of species and habitats.

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