kukri: Instagram post leads to discovery of snake species | Bangalore News

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Bengaluru / Mangaluru: Researchers and herpetologists have discovered a species of Kukri snake, Oligodon churahensis, in Himachal Pradesh.The team that worked on the discovery included Zeeshan A Mirza the National Center for Biological Sciences (Bengaluru), Virendar K Bhardwaj from Guru Nanak Dev University (Amritsar) and Harshil Patel from Veer Narmad South Gujarat University (Surat).

The story behind the discovery was unusual, Zeeshan noted.Virendar, a master’s student, was back home in Chamba because of the lockdown. He was exploring his garden, photographing and uploading photos of what he found on Instagram. They included images of snakes, lizards, frogs and insects.“I saw one of these images in his search feed and discussed the photo with Harshil. I then contacted Virendar and inquired about the snake, which belonged to a group of snakes commonly known as Kukri because they carry curved teeth like those of the Nepalese Kukri dagger. The snake found by Virendar was similar to the common Kukri snake (Oligodon arnensis), but it differed in several aspects, ”Zeeshan said.The photo was uploaded by Virendar on June 5, 2020, and after exploring the area extensively at the end of the month, he found two snakes that were sufficient to begin their identification. The works were delayed because the laboratories did not function for a long time and it was not possible to visit a natural history museum.After laboratory work resumed, molecular (DNA) data for the species was generated, which confirmed that the species was significantly different from the common Kukri snake. A joint paper was submitted the first week of August 2021 and was published in the recent issue of the international journal Evolutionary Systematics. The new species was named Oligodon churahensis, after the Churah Valley in Himachal Pradesh.

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