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Tail-less rabbits,bird species discovered in NE

By The Assam Tribune

NEW DELHI, Dec 28 - Rabbits which look like tail-less rats and a new bird species were discovered in Northeastern region in 2016, offering glimpses of the faunal diversity potential of NE ecosystems.

The new bird species was found in Arunachal Pradesh much to the delight of scientists.

The year started on a promising note with a new bird species found in Northeastern India and named after noted ornithologist Salim Ali. The bird was discovered by a team of scientists from India, Sweden, China, US, and Russia.

The bird, Himalayan Forest Thrush, has been distinguished as a separate species by researchers and the discovery has been published in the international Avian Research journal.

This is only the fourth new bird species described from India by modern ornithologists since Independence. Himalayan Forest Thrush is common in eastern Himalayas and so far, believed to be a sub-species of Plain-backed Thrush.

In Sikkim, a new species of a small mammal in the rabbit family was discovered in the higher altitudes of the Himalayas. Identified as �Ochotona sikimaria� � the new pika species was discovered by the study based on genetic data and skull measurements. The study has been published in the journal �Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution�.

These members of the rabbit family look like tail-less rats and have been in the news in North America for their sensitivity to impacts of climate change, like increasing temperature, which has caused several of the populations in pika series go extinct.

Nishma Dahal, the first author of the paper, started by collecting pika pellets to get its DNA and identify the species. On comparing the DNA sequences from the pellets with that of all known pika species in the world, she saw that these were quite different.

To prove that this is indeed a new species, she had to compare the Sikkim pika to its close relatives. It took two years for collaborations with researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Zoological Museum of Moscow and Stanford University to get detailed data on these possible sister species.

For more than a century, two mysterious tree frog specimens collected by a British naturalist in 1870 and housed at the Natural History Museum in London were assumed to be part of a vanished species, never again found in the wild until now.

A group of scientists, led by renowned biologist Sathyabhama Das Biju, has rediscovered the frogs and also identified them as part of a new genus � one step higher than a species on the taxonomic ranking. Not only have they found the frogs in abundance in Northeast Indian jungles, they believe they could also be living across a wide swathe of Asia from China to Thailand.

�This is an exciting find, but it doesn�t mean the frogs are safe,� Biju said, adding that he hopes the discovery leads to more awareness of the dangers of unfettered development to the animals. The frogs were found at high altitudes in four Northeastern States, underlining the rain-soaked region�s role as a biodiversity hotspot. The plant world also unraveled some new species.

India has some of the world�s most biodiverse regions. It hosts three biodiversity hotspots: the Western Ghats, the Himalayas and the Indo-Burma region. These hotspots have numerous endemic species. The country is home to 97,514 species of animals and 45,000 species of plants. � PTI

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Tail-less rabbits,bird species discovered in NE

NEW DELHI, Dec 28 - Rabbits which look like tail-less rats and a new bird species were discovered in Northeastern region in 2016, offering glimpses of the faunal diversity potential of NE ecosystems.

The new bird species was found in Arunachal Pradesh much to the delight of scientists.

The year started on a promising note with a new bird species found in Northeastern India and named after noted ornithologist Salim Ali. The bird was discovered by a team of scientists from India, Sweden, China, US, and Russia.

The bird, Himalayan Forest Thrush, has been distinguished as a separate species by researchers and the discovery has been published in the international Avian Research journal.

This is only the fourth new bird species described from India by modern ornithologists since Independence. Himalayan Forest Thrush is common in eastern Himalayas and so far, believed to be a sub-species of Plain-backed Thrush.

In Sikkim, a new species of a small mammal in the rabbit family was discovered in the higher altitudes of the Himalayas. Identified as �Ochotona sikimaria� � the new pika species was discovered by the study based on genetic data and skull measurements. The study has been published in the journal �Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution�.

These members of the rabbit family look like tail-less rats and have been in the news in North America for their sensitivity to impacts of climate change, like increasing temperature, which has caused several of the populations in pika series go extinct.

Nishma Dahal, the first author of the paper, started by collecting pika pellets to get its DNA and identify the species. On comparing the DNA sequences from the pellets with that of all known pika species in the world, she saw that these were quite different.

To prove that this is indeed a new species, she had to compare the Sikkim pika to its close relatives. It took two years for collaborations with researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Zoological Museum of Moscow and Stanford University to get detailed data on these possible sister species.

For more than a century, two mysterious tree frog specimens collected by a British naturalist in 1870 and housed at the Natural History Museum in London were assumed to be part of a vanished species, never again found in the wild until now.

A group of scientists, led by renowned biologist Sathyabhama Das Biju, has rediscovered the frogs and also identified them as part of a new genus � one step higher than a species on the taxonomic ranking. Not only have they found the frogs in abundance in Northeast Indian jungles, they believe they could also be living across a wide swathe of Asia from China to Thailand.

�This is an exciting find, but it doesn�t mean the frogs are safe,� Biju said, adding that he hopes the discovery leads to more awareness of the dangers of unfettered development to the animals. The frogs were found at high altitudes in four Northeastern States, underlining the rain-soaked region�s role as a biodiversity hotspot. The plant world also unraveled some new species.

India has some of the world�s most biodiverse regions. It hosts three biodiversity hotspots: the Western Ghats, the Himalayas and the Indo-Burma region. These hotspots have numerous endemic species. The country is home to 97,514 species of animals and 45,000 species of plants. � PTI

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