Gecko named after Mizo chieftain who fought British 150 years ago
Cyrtodactylus bengkhuaiai is one among 4 new species of bent-toed gecko recorded from Meghalaya and Mizoram
A species of pest-controlling lizard new to science has been named after a Mizo chieftain who fought the British forces 150 years ago.
Cyrtodactylus bengkhuaiai, named in honour of chieftain Bengkhuaia, is one among 4 new species of bent-toed geckos recorded by two teams of scientists in October-November 2020. Two geckos every have been present in Mizoram and Meghalaya.
The joint research discovered area within the newest version of Zootaxa, a peer-reviewed scientific mega journal for animal taxonomists printed from New Zealand.
The authors of the research are Jayaditya Purkayastha and Sanath C. Bohra of Guwahati-based Help Earth; H.T. Lalremsanga of Mizoram University’s Department of Zoology and his analysis staff comprising Lal Biakzuala, H.T. Decemson, Lal Muansanga and Mathipi Vabeiryureilai; Colonel Yashpal Singh Rathee of Umroi Military Station in Meghalaya; and Suraj Chauhan of the University of Hyderabad.
The Bengkhuaia bent-toed gecko was recorded from the outskirts of Sailam village in Mizoram’s Aizawl district. Sailam was the place Bengkhuaia, the legendary chieftain lived.
The second new lizard in Mizoram, Cyrtodactylus aaronbaueri was recorded in and round Aizawl city. It was named after Aaron Bauer, the world’s main knowledgeable on taxonomy of geckos.
“The British considered Bengkhuaia and his men as uncivilised head-hunters because of his raids on tea gardens in adjoining Assam. But he contributed a lot to conservation, and the Sailam Bird Sanctuary was established because of his influence over the people,” Mr. Lalremsanga instructed The Puucho.
The two new species recorded in Meghalaya are the karst-dwelling bent-toed gecko (Cyrtodactylus karsticola) and Agarwal’s bent-toed gecko (Cyrtodactylus agarwali). The second one is named after Ishan Agarwal, one among India’s main herpetologists.
“All four new species are a part of the Cyrtodactylus khasiensis group and crucial to natural pest control in the region,” Mr. Purkayastha stated.
But the enjoyment of recording the 2 new geckos in Meghalaya has include a tinge of unhappiness for the herpetofauna specialists.
“Both species are from limestone caves near Siju village in South Garo Hills district, highlighting the unique biogeography and steep terrain often associated with limestone areas impacting the evolution of specialised karst-endemic biodiversity. These caves have been vulnerable to limestone mining,” Mr. Purkayastha stated.
Limestone is the second most extracted useful resource after coal in Meghalaya, with a reported 14,959 million tonnes of cement-grade limestone reserve within the State, accounting for about 9% of the overall Indian reserves. Mining within the State is basically unregulated and unscientific.
The staff that recorded the 2 new bent-toed geckos in Meghalaya additionally recorded 48 different species of amphibians and reptiles.