Zoological Survey of India lists 62 species of Skinks
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment; Biodiversity
- A recent publication by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) reveals that India is home to 62 species of skinks.
- Title of the publication: Skinks of India.
- It gives a phylogenetic (evolutionary development) and bio-geographical analysis of distribution of these species in all the 11 bio-geographic zones of India.
- India is home to less than 4% of the skinks across the globe.
- 62 species of skinks are found in India.
- About 57% of them (33 species) are endemic.
- The four genera of skinks which are endemic to India are: (1) Sepsophis punctatus is endemic to the northern part of Eastern Ghats; (2) Barkudia are limbless skinks found in the hills and coastal plains of the eastern coast; (3) Kaestlea, also known as blue-tailed ground skinks, are endemic to the Western Ghats; (4) Ristella, also known as Cat skinks, are endemic to the southern part of Western Ghats.
Important value additions
- It is the largest family of lizards.
- There are 1,602 species of skinks across the world.
- It has long body relatively small or no legs, no pronounced neck and glossy scales.
- It is found around homes, garages, and open spaces such as sparks and school playgrounds, and around lakes.
- Skinks are non-venomous, highly alert, agile and fast moving.
- They actively forage for a variety of insects and small invertebrates.
- They have a prominent role in maintaining ecosystems.
- However, not much is known about their breeding habits, and ecology because identification of the species can be confusing.
- In India skinks are found in all kinds of habitats in the country, from the Himalayas to the coasts and from dense forests to the deserts.
Do you know?
- Barkudia insularis is believed to be found only in the Barkud Island in Chilka lake in Odisha.
- Barkudia melanosticta is endemic to Visakhapatnam.