Researchers Of CUO In Odisha’s Koraput Discover Two New Species Of Earthworms

OB Bureau

Koraput: In a major discovery, researchers from the Central University of Odisha in Koraput, in collaboration with scientists from Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala, have unearthed two new species of Megascolex earthworms from the Eastern Ghats of Odisha.

During an earthworm diversity study in different parts of Koraput, Ayusmita Naik collected some large earthworm specimens from Rani Duduma and Jeypore Ghati. Under the supervision of Prof Sharat Kumar Palita, Dean of the School of Biodiversity and Conservation of Natural Resources of the CUO, the specimens were examined in the laboratory by the researchers.

Later, with the support of Dr R Paliwal, retired scientist of the Zoological Survey of India and earthworm specialists Dr Prasantha Narayanan and Dr AP Thomas of Advanced Centre of Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala, the two large earthworm varieties were identified as two new species which are completely new to science. They were identified as Megascolexjeyporeghatiensis and Megascolexquadripappilatus. The report of these two new species from Koraput has been published in the reputed international taxonomic journal Zootaxa.

These two new earthworm species belong to Genus Megascolex discovered from relatively under-explored Eastern Ghats hills of Odisha state in Peninsular India. They belong to a group of species characterized by two pairs of spermathecal pores in intersegmental furrows 7/8/9, holandric, seminal vesicles in segments 9 and 12, absence of penial setae and calciferous glands. These two new species occur in deciduous forests with brownish gravel-loamy soils.

These two species are endemic to India. With this discovery, the total number of Megascolexspecies in the world has increased to 70, of which 34 are found in India. Mostly all Megascolex species are restricted to the southern portion of the Western Ghats mountain ranges in the southwest corner of Peninsular India.

With the discovery of these new species, the range of Megascolex groups of earthworms has been further extended into northern Peninsular India into northern Eastern Ghats.

OB Bureau

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