Monday, May 28, 2007

New Limbless Lizard Species Discovered

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An Indian zoologist said Monday he has found a new species of limbless lizard in a forested area in the country's east. "Preliminary scientific study reveals that the lizard belongs to the genus Sepsophis," said Sushil Kumar Dutta, who led a team of researchers from "Vasundhra," a non-governmental organization, and the North Orissa University.

The newly found 7-inch long lizard looks like a scaly, small snake, Dutta said. "It prefers to live in a cool retreat, soft soil and below stones."

"The lizard is new to science and is an important discovery. It is not found anywhere else in the world," Dutta told The Associated Press. He is the head of the zoology department of the North Orissa University in the eastern Indian town of Baripada.

While modern snakes and lizards are derived from a common evolutionary ancestor, they belong today to two entirely separate groups of animals, or orders. Snakes, over millenia, gradually lost their limbs and developed their characteristic forms of locomotion. But modern limbless lizards are not snakes, Dutta said.

The lizard was found 10 days ago during a field study in the forested region of Khandadhar near Raurkela in Orissa state, about 625 miles southeast of New Delhi, he said.


Source: SFGate
Image & link : SFGate




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