Two new species of earthworm discovered in Kerala
Kochi: Scientists have discovered two new species of earthworm belonging to the primitive family Moniligastridae in the Western Ghats mountain ranges in Kerala.
The two new species, named Drawida polydiverticulata and Drawida thomasi, were described in the journal ZooKeys.
The discovery was made by scientists S. Prasanth Narayanan, S. Sathrumithra, G. Christopher, all affiliated with Kerala's Mahatma Gandhi University, and J.M. Julka of the Shoolini University, Himachal Pradesh.
The new earthworms are distinguished by a set of characters, according to the scientists.
It turned out that Drawida polydiverticulata's multiple lobes, also called diverticulums, an organ located in the front of its body, are unique amongst the members of the genus.
This species was found to be widespread in the protected shola grasslands of the Munnar region, including Eravikulam National Park, Pampadun Shola National Park and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.
The second new earthworm, Drawida thomasi, was collected at the Kozhippara Waterfalls near Kakkadampoyil, at the border between Malappuram and Kozhikode.
To date, there are 73 species of the genus Drawida confirmed to be living in the Indian subcontinent. However, the greatest concentration (43 species) is found in the Western Ghats.
The genus has an important centre of speciation in Kerala, the study said.