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Two Fan-Throated Lizard Species Discovered In India

The two new species, Sitana gokakensis and Sitana thondalu hail from the Deccan Plateau.

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A scientist at the Natural History Museum of London has described, not one, but two new species of fan-throated lizard hailing from a region of India that he says has been overlooked by scientists who think the area is a desolate area devoid of much life.


Deepak Veerappan, Marie Curie Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Museum, was at the Centre for Ecological Science in Bangalore, India, researching how weather systems affect the way animals evolve when he made the discovery.

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The two species, Sitana gokakensis and Sitana thondalu, are ground-dwelling lizards. Sitana gokakensis is a rust-colored brown in coloration with a white belly while S. thondalu is a darker reddish brown in coloration with a tinge of blue around the south and throat area, based on the photos Veerappan posted to Twitter.

“I was surprised about the underestimated diversity of this group, and how researchers in the past had decided to classify the lizards as just a few species,” Veerappan told the Natural History Museum.

The two species hail not from the Western Ghats, which is considered to be the most biodiverse region in India, but the Deccan Plateau, a region that was, until now, overlooked in terms of biodiversity.


The genus is comprised of 11 additional species:

Sitana bahiri
Sitana devakai
Sitana fusca
Sitana laticeps
Sitana marudhamneydhal
Sitana ponticeriana 

Sitana schleichi
Sitana sivalensis
Sitana spinaecephalus
Sitana visiri
Sitana attenboroughii

“This landscape has been long underrated in terms of biodiversity and it’s about time that it gets the due credit,” Veerappan said. “It is not just a barren and unproductive land.”

“They play a key role in the ecosystem as a potential predator. They are known to feed on insects and in certain seasons molluscs,” Veerappan said. “On the other hand they are prey for several predatory birds, snakes and other large lizards, as well as small mammals such as foxes and jungle cats.”