Four New Reptiles Discovered From Sri Lanka A By Team Of Scientists Featured In Journal Asian


A new snake from the wet zone of Sri Lanka

The scientific team speaking  to The Earthlanka said that Bronzeback snakes, or in Sinhala “haal-danda” are harmless snakes. There are six species in Sri Lanka. Among them Bush Bronzeback snake “Panduru haal-danda” considered as a wide spread snake throughout wet zone and dry zone of Sri Lanka.

Recently two young budding researchers Dineth Danushka and Suneth Kanishka conducted a research on this snake; the research was supervised by the world renowned herpetologists and taxonomists, Research Scientist (Herpetology), Research Center for Climate Change University of Indonesia, Dr. Thasun Amarasinghe, Dr. Gernot Vogel (Germany), and evolutionary ecologist Dr. Sampath Seneviratne (University of Colombo).

Dineth and Kanishka twin brothers started to study on this snake since 2015 with a research permits issued by the wildlife department of Sri Lanka. After hard field works and collected data throughout Sri Lanka, the research team realised that the population living in wet zone is different with in the dry zone. Therefore identified the wet zone bronzeback is a new species and named as “Dendrelaphis wickrorum” in Latin, to honouring Mendis Wickramasinghe and his wife Nethu Wickramasinghe, a couple of renowned herpetologists in Sri Lanka.

To identify this species they used morphological appearance, colour patterns as well as molecular (DNA) differences. The other similar species “Dendrelaphis bifrenalis” was discovered by a Zoologist at British Museum, over 130 years ago. The last bronzeback snake species from Sri Lanka discovered in 1909, and this discovery is over 100 years after the last known species of this genus. It means this species was living in the wet zone without detecting as a new species, but misidentified over 130 years until this research team resolve the problem of identification.

A new day-gecko discovered near Colombo

Naming day-geckos after national Heros was a controversial issue in the last year. Day-geckos are completely forest geckos and very unique group of reptiles. Day geckos are evolutionary highly successful very diverse group of reptiles, and interestingly all the Sri Lankan day-geckos are nowhere found outside the country, means endemic!

A new day-gecko found in a dense forest near Gampaha by two world renowned herpetologists and taxonomists, Thasun Amarasinghe (University of Indonesia) and Suranjan Karunarathna (Nature Explorations & Education Team). It is really interesting to find a new gecko very close to the Capital city of the country, as all the species of this gecko group found in forests far from cities. The leading author, Thasun Amarasinghe named this new species as “Cnemaspis manoae” honouring his high school biology teacher, Mrs. Mano Kalupahana, to appreciate her generous teaching marked the turning point in his becoming a taxonomist.

“Now my biology teacher’s name will be inerasable and forever until the Zoology is exists in this world, this is the best way to express my gratitude towards her”, added Thasun.

Two new lanka-skinks from Morningside, Rakwana Hills

Lanka-skinks are very unique group of tiny skinks nowhere find anywhere in the world.

The research on one new species was conducted by the same twin brothers, Dineth and Kanishka. This is their second discovery in their budding carrier as young herpetologists. This research also supervised by the renowned herpetologist and taxonomist Thasun Amarasinghe, also very young (35), but who has over 15 years of experience of discovering over 20 new species from  even many other countries like India, Indonesia, and Vietnam etc.

These unique terrestrial skinks live under forest floor and biologically a heritage for the country, as it belongs to an endemic genus “Lankascincus”. The twin brothers wanted to name this new species as “Lankscincus sameerai” to honour Dr. Sameera Suranjan Karunarathna, one of their mentors.

Suranjan, one of the leading herpetologists here who discovered number many new geckos and lizards from Sri Lanka. The research partnership between Thasun and Suranjan started since 2003 and they have published over 100 research articles and proceeding together. “Naming this species after Sameera Suranjan is great pleasure to me, to celebrate our research partnership and friendship with Sameera over 17 years”, added Thasun. “Also we are happy to support and supervise young budding researchers like Dineth and Kanishka, as they will represent the next generation of herpetological research in our country”, added further.

The research on the second new species of another Lanka-skink, also from Morningside, was led by Wickramasinghe couple, renowned herpetologists who discovered many new geckos and snakes, along with  Dulan Vidanapathirana, another young herpetologist who discovered several new species of geckos and snakes. They named this new species to honour the CEO and founder of Dilmah, a world  famous company that initiated and supported biodiversity conservation in Sri Lankae.