A new snake species is found out, ‘Rhabdophis Bindi‘ named after due to its unique red marking on the back of the neck symbolizing the red beauty mark adorning the foreheads of Indian women, which is called ‘bindi’.
Discovery after over a century!
However, this new reptile with a bindi-like mark on the back of its neck has been discovered in Assam by a team of scientists from the USA, UK, and India. Indeed, witnessing the first such discovery from the northeastern state in over a century.
Having a distinctly rough rhomboidal red coloured nuchal spot/blotch, which was absent from all other species of the genus Rhabdophis, which comprises 27 species, found across South, East and Southeast Asia.
Discovery by a crew of experts
News of the discovery was found by a crew of experts from Wildlife Institute of India, Natural History Museum, Dehradun, London and the University of Texas at Arlington; it has been posted in a recent edition of Zootaxa, published from New Zealand, a journal for animal taxonomists.
Researchers who were associated with the discovery were; Abhijit Das, Eric N. Smith, Irvan Sidik, Goutam C. Sarker, Bitupan Boruah, Naitik G. Patel , B.H.C.K Murthy and V. Deepak.
Abhijit Das of WII, associated with the discovery, said:
“It took 14 years from the time it was first seen till it was classified as a new species because we had to compare the new one with all other closely related species found in different countries and had to study many specimens from across the world. It also took time to do genetic analysis of the species.”
During a 2007 survey, it was Das who first found a specimen of the species in and around Barail Hill Range in the Cachar district of Assam.
Ten other individuals of the species found at low heights of below 100 m from sea level are collected and studied in the following years.
Resembles Himalayan Red-Necked Keelback
Morphologically, the new species, which has been discovered to have a length of around 60 cm to 80 cm, resembles the Himalayan Red-Necked Keelback scattered widely in the northeast.
Yet, the new species appears to reside in lowland evergreen forest. Himalayan Red-Necked Keelback, on the other hand, has been found only in peaks above 600m.