The Western Ghats mountain range in southern India is a global biodiversity hotspot and has many species of limbless, soil-dwelling caecilian amphibians. The Museum is a leading centre for caecilian research and we are working with colleagues in India to reassess the caecilians in the region.
This research collaboration has enabled us to
- integrate anatomical and DNA data
- compare new field discoveries from India with type and historical specimens in the Museum’s collections.
- 13 new species of Western Ghats caecilians found
- 3 previously recognised species invalidated.
- clarification of the diversity and distinctiveness of the Western Ghats and Sri Lankan biotas
- revealed viviparous Asian caecilians, which bear their young live rather than in eggs, evolved this feature independently
- shown that all other Asian caecilians originated in India following separation from the rest of the Gondwana supercontinent about 130 million years ago.
- research findings have improved conservation assessments