NEW DELHI: What could bring cheers to scientists across the world, 313 animal and 206 plant species new to science have been discovered from India in 2016. The discovery of a new genus of snake was the highlight of the year.
The Animal Discoveries during the year 2016 has been compiled with 313 new species and 83 new records from India. The new species comprise 258 species of invertebrata and 55 species of vertebrata.
Among invertebrate insect predominates with 197 species and among vertebrates 27 new species of fishes 12 species of Amphibia and 6 species of reptilia have been discovered. The species have been documented by Zoological Survey of India.
The 2016 turned out to be a good year for discovery of plant species with the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) documenting 206 species as new to science and 113 species have been recorded for the first time from our national boundary.
Commending work of scientists, Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said: “It is important to document new species because they are as fundamental to biology as elements are to chemistry and particles are to the physics.” During 2016, seed plants contributed the maximum with 37 percent of the total discoveries followed by fungi by 20 percent, microbes by 16 percent, lichens by 11 percent and algae by 9 percent and bryophytes by 7 percent of the total discoveries.
The discoveries have been reported from almost all regions of the country.
Analysis of these based on the different geographic zones revealed that, maximum discoveries were made from Western Ghats (17 percent), followed by Eastern Himalaya (15 percent), Western Himalaya (13 percent), Eastern Ghats (12 percent), West Coast (8 percent), Western Plains (6 percent), Eastern plains and North East Ranges (5 percent each), Northern plains (4 percent); while North Deccan and South Deccan contribute 3 percent each of the total discoveries of 2016.
Like last year, this year also, among seed plants maximum discoveries were reported from Kerala (35) Arunachal Pradesh (18) and Tamil Nadu (17), Maharashtra (10), and Sikkim (6).
India has only about 2.4 percent of world’s total land surface, but harbours over 6.4 percent of the species of animals known from the world, comprising as many as 100693 species. Among them, insects alone include 65047 species. It is estimated that about two times more of that number of species still remains undiscovered from India.