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New insect-eating mammal found in India after 43 yrs

KOLKATA: Scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have discovered a new insectivorous mammal species from India after 43 years. The new white-toothed shrew (mole-like mammals) species has been named after Narcondam Island, i.e., Crocidura norcondamica. Narcondam Island is a volcanic island situated in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago.

The species was collected from the island by Dr. Chandrakasan Sivaperuman, senior Scientist of ZSI, Port Blair Andaman and Nicobar Regional Centre.

"The newly discovered species has a medium-sized head and body length. It is covered by dark grey dense fur with a thick, darker tail, and distinctive craniodental (cranium and teeth) characters in comparison to other close congeners," said Dr Manokaran Kamalakannan, ZSI scientist associated with the Mammal and Osteology Section of ZSI, Kolkata.

The new species elucidates substantial genetic distances with other Crocidura species known from the Indian mainland, the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, Myanmar, and from Sumatra.

Former director of ZSI, Dr Kailash Chandra said the Narcondam Island is uninhabited and so, the new species may not have faced the anthropogenic disturbances,

but the extremely restricted insular habitat and the associated limited population size will automatically result in increased vulnerability of the species.

A total of 422 species of mammals have been reported from India till date. This is another addition.

According to ZSI scientists, additional field studies on taxonomy, ecology, and distribution will help to understand the present status and promote the precise conservation action plans of the newly found species.

The discovery of Jenkin's Andaman shrew (C. jenkinsi) on South Andaman Island by ZSI during 1978 was the latest discovery of a Crocidura species from India.

This new discovery increases the number of white-toothed shrew (genus Crocidura) species in India from 11 to 12.

It is the first shrew species from Narcondam Island. The findings of the research have been recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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