English Hindi



Prelims bits

Prelims Capsule


Species in News from June to October 2019

Species in News from June to October 2019

Tag:  GS 3 || Environment || Biodiversity|| Animal Diversity

Nelloptodes gretae

  • Between 1964 and 1965, an entomologist called William Brock collected samples of soil from around east Africa.
  • Inside one of these samples, taken in Kenya and stored in the British Natural History Museum until now, was a tiny species of beetle, pale yellow and gold.
  • Measuring just 79 millimetres, the beetle has no eyes or wings, with a small pit between where the eyes should have been.
  • The species has just got a name Nelloptodes gretae, after the teenage climate activist, Greta Thunberg.

What’s behind the name?

  • Biological names comprise two words, one for the genus and the second for the species.
  • Traditionally, it is the species name that scientists coin to honour a prominent personality, and sometimes even a friend or a relative.
  • While the species name gretae derives from Greta, the genus Nelloptodes too is new.

White bellbird- the world’s loudest bird

  • Bellbirds have the loudest bird calls yet documented in the world, according to a study.
  • The study found that their mating songs pack more decibels than the screams of howler monkeys and the bellows of bisons.
  • The male white bellbird’s mating call is about three times louder than screaming phias — the previously loudest bird singer.
  • The bellbird’s calls were so loud that they wondered how the females of the species listened to them at close range without permanent damage to their hearing.
  • The loud singing ability also came with a trade-off, according to the researchers, who said that as the songs of bellbirds became louder, they also got shorter in duration.

7 new species of insects that can walk on water discovered

  • Scientists of the Zoological Survey of India have discovered seven species of water treaders, semi-aquatic insects that can walk or run on the surface of water.

About the species

  • The newly described species belong to the genus Mesoveliawhose size ranges from 5 mm to 4.5 mm and are equipped with hydrophobic setae (bristles) on their legs.
  • The combination of hydrophobic setae and water surface tension prevents them from sinking.
  • The insects are pale green with silver-white wings with black veins on the basal half which make them stand out over the green mat of aquatic weeds.
  • Among the new discoveries, Mesovelia andamanais from Andaman Islands, bispinosa and  isiasi are from MeghalayaM. occulta and M. tenuia from Tamil Nadu and M. brevia and M. dilatata live both in Meghalaya and Tamil Nadu.


  • These bugs are hemimetabolous insects without having larval stage i.e., they go from egg to nymph to adult.
  • They are found on freshwater bodies such as ponds, lakes, pools, streams, rocks with moss and sometimes on estuaries.
  • These bugs serve as predators and scavengers (feed on midges, water fleas, feed on dead and dying mosquitoes), thereby removing organic waste and also providing a natural sanitation service.
  • The females of Mesoveliaare larger than males and dig several holes on plants and insert eggs in plant tissues with a specially adapted long serrated ovipositor (genital organ).

New freshwater fishes

  • Scientists of the Zoological Survey (ZSI) of India have discovered two new species of freshwater fish from the north-eastern and northern parts of the country.
  • Both fish, measuring less than seven centimetres, are hill stream fauna and are equipped with special morphological features to suit rapid water flow.

Glyptothorax gopii

  • It (measuring 63 mm standard length without caudal fin) is dark brown catfish on its dorsal surface, and its ventral surface is of a yellowish-light brown.
  • It has been named to celebrate the contribution of taxonomist K.C. Gopi.
  • It was discovered from Champai district in Mizoram near the India-Myanmar border in Kaladan river.
  • It has an axe-shaped anterior nuchal plate (bone below dorsal fin), which makes it distinct from other species of the genus.
  • The elliptical thoracic adhesive apparatus and plicae (folds of tissue) present on the ventral surfaces of the pectoral-fin spine help the fish cling to rocks.

Garra simbalbaraensis

  • It (measuring 69 mm standard length without caudal fin) has a yellowish-grey colour fading ventrally.
  • It takes its name from the Himachal Pradesh’s Simbalbara river.
  • It has a prominent unilobed and rounded proboscis with tubercles that help the fish in manoeuvrability.

Other species discovered

  • The scientist, who heads the freshwater fish section of ZSI, has earlier discovered four species of Gara(which has an evolved disc to attach to rocky surfaces).
  • The discoveries include Garra compressain the year 1998, elongata (2000),  tamangi (2016), and G. chindwinensis (2018).
  • Among catfish (characterised by whiskers), the scientist earlier discovered Myersglanis jayarami(1999), Glyptothorax senapatiensis (2015), and Olya parviocula (2018), all from north-eastern India.

Tamil Yeoman declared Tamil Nadu’s state butterfly

  • Tamil Yeoman (Cirrochroa thais) butterfly species endemic to Western Ghats has been declared the state butterfly of Tamil Nadu.

About Tamil Yeoman

  • Uniformly orange in colour with a dark brown outer ring, Tamil Yeoman is among the 32 butterfly species found in the Western Ghats.
  • This butterfly species moves in groups in large numbers, but only in a few places.
  • Also known as Tamil Maravan, which means warrior, these butterflies are found mainly in the hilly areas.
  • An expert team was involved in identifying butterfly species to be declared state butterfly.
  • The team had shortlisted two butterfly species – Tamil yeoman and Tamil Lacewing.
  • The Tamil Yeoman was selected. Both butterfly species are unique in their own ways.
  • The Tamil Lacewing butterfly is very rare and difficult to sight which may have been a reason for the government to prefer Tamil Yeoman.

Why it’s special?

  • For the first time Tamil Nadu has declared its state butterfly and only fifth in the country to do so.
  • Maharashtra was the first to declare Blue Mormon as its state butterfly, followed by Uttarakhand (Common peacock), Karnataka (Southern bird wings) and Kerala (Malabar banded peacock).

Great Indian Bustard

  • May go extinct very soon
  • The Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is one of the few species that the Government of India has included in its ‘recovery programme for critically endangered species’.
  • With less than 200 GIBs remaining in the world, most of them found in Rajasthan’s ‘Desert National Park’.
  • We are on the brink of forever losing a majestic bird species, which was once a strong contender to be declared as India’s National Bird.

Various threats to GIBs

  • General threats to GIB
  • Habitat loss & fragmentation, change of land use pattern, desertification, ill-thought plantation of exotic & invasive species in grassland ecosystems are some of the generic causes.
  • Neglect of state institutions due to classification of ‘grasslands’ as ‘wastelands’, conversion of grasslands to agriculture lands due to increasing irrigation potential and decline of nature/GIB-friendly agrarian practices, are all commonly and correctly blamed for the steady decline in India’s GIB population.

 Role of Noise Pollution

  • Noise pollution affects the mating and courtship practices of the GIB.
  • The male GIB inflates his ‘gular’ pouch (near the neck) which almost touches the ground, in order to produce a large booming sound which reverberates across the grassland.
  • The male GIB does this to attract GIB females and to inform them of his exact location in the vast expanse of the
  • Thus, the sound of the male GIB should be loud enough to transcend the walls of the sanctuary and be audible to female GIBs in the fields nearby.
  • The noise generated by human activities, whether be it by vehicles, tractors, music during processions, firecrackers, may interfere with the GIB’s mating call and drown it out.

 III. Other threats

  • The rate of reproduction amongst GIBs is very low; the female GIB lays only one egg per year.
  • This solitary egg is under threat from natural predators of the grasslands such as jackals, hyenas or foxes or invasive species such as crows or feral dogs.
  • In such a scenario, every opportunity the GIBs lose to mate pushes the species closer to extinction.

Way Forward

  • The best course of action to guarantee the GIB’s revival, is to remove impediments in its natural breeding cycle, including noise barriers.
  • Along with all other measures to revive GIB numbers, the aspect of regulating noise pollution levels needs to be incorporated.
  • This may include techno-fixes such as retro-fitting vehicles/tractors in the area with advanced ‘super-quiet’ silencers.
  • We can co-ordinate with the people and their local leaders to ensure that any procession or ceremony during the pre-monsoon & monsoon period would not make use of high noise making equipment.

Additional Info 

Mains  Question

 What is Tamil Yeoman? Why it’s special?