Report on finding of Sitana cf. laticeps from Asansol Ecoregion, West Bengal

Show all

According to the “Systematics and phylogeny of Sitana (Reptilia: Agamidiae) of Peninsular India, with the description of one new genus and five new species” by V.Deepak et al in 2016, the distribution of Sitana in West Bengal shows only one species Sitana ponticeriana. On the second week of May 2017, one more species of Sitana was recorded from the Ecoregion of Asansol, which is Sitana cf. laticeps. This is the first known record from West Bengal after publishing of paper by Deepak et al. More extensive studies in Asansol may lead to some other miraculous finding in reptiles or other fauna.

Asansol (23.68°N, 86.99°E), “The city of Brotherhood”, is the second largest city of West Bengal. Asansol is surrounded by district Bankura and Purulia in one side and in other side it shares its border with the state of Jharkhand. Asansol chiefly resides on Chotonagpur Plateau, where river Damodar and river Ajay surrounds it at South and North respectively. Hence, being the second largest city of West Bengal, it shows some amazing biodiversity of birds, reptiles and butterflies. There is always a chance to find something new, amazing creatures from this region.

From 2013, there was no record of Sitana sp from Asansol, although there were few records of Sitana ponticeriana from adjacent areas of Asansol.

In 2016, V. Deepak et al published a paper named “Systematics and phylogeny of Sitana (Reptilia: Agamidiae) of Peninsular India, with the description of one new genus and five new species”, where he and his team did molecular and morphological taxonomy, and broke the genus Sitana into two genus Sitana and Sarada and total six species Sitana darwini, Sarada deccanensis, Sitana superb, Sitana spinaecephalus, Sitana laticeps, Sitana ponticeriana, Sitana visiri and Sitana bahiri. In this paper, it is also shown that they had checked the specimens of West Bengal but there is no proper data of the species found in West Bengal. So, it can be stated that only Sitana ponticeriana is found in West Bengal. That is why the finding of Sitana cf laticeps in Asansol is so miraculous.

The so called biological hotspots of Asansol can be divided in five areas viz Gunjan ecological park, Dhakeswary Wetland, Damodar, Neheru Park and Talkuri and adjacent areas. The survey was done for five days in May 2017.

Reptiles were observed and digital cameras were used for photography and recorded Sitana species was identified by using the photographs from the paper of V. Deepak et al.

Surveying the mentioned locations, apart from other agamid specimen, only one Sitana individual has been found. The individual was found on the Damodar region at around 10 am on 14/05/2017. The weather condition was sunny, sky was clear and the temperature was 42 to 44 degree Celsius. The area of finding is just on the bank of the river. Area is a typical plateau with hard ground and partially covered by small but dense bushes. There is a patch of jungle nearly 400 meter away.

The main distinguishing factor observed was the Dewlap of the individual. There was a clear blue patch on it clearly distinguish it from the Sitana ponticeriana and the enlarge projecting of the thigh scale also indicates the genus as Sitana. The broad head also indicates the species as Sitana cf. laticeps.

The result retrieved from the findings indicates that the individual recorded is Sitana cf laticeps. And after the last taxonomical change made by V. Deepak, it is the first known record of S. laticeps from Chotonagpur Plateau as well as from West Bengal. This miraculous find clearly indicates the biodiversity of the second largest city of West Bengal and give some boost up to the naturalists and nature lovers to explore more.

comments

Saptarshi Mukherjee
Saptarshi Mukherjee
M.Sc. Zoology; Asstt Acctt in State Bank of India; Amateur Wildlife Photographer & Wildlife Enthusiast from Asansol
Submit Content