A group of biologists from Odisha resolved a century-old confusion on the existence of a snake which is sexually dichromatic – colours of male and female are different. They have also validated it as a different species for the first time.
The reptile has been renamed as Variable Coloured Vine Snake, the species name being Ahaetulla Anomala. This is also for the first time that sexually dichromatism among snakes has been discovered in Indian subcontinent, which is considered a significant feat.
The team of biologists, comprising Pratyush Mohapatra, Prof S K Dutta, Abhijit Das, Niladri Kar, BHCK Murthy and V Deepak conducted molecular and morphological study of the snake to separate it from the Common Vine Snakes. The snake was first spotted near North Orissa University campus in Baripada by Mohapatra and Dutta in 2007, who initiated the study to find out more about the species.
The snake was first described by Thomas Nelson Annandale, the first Director General of Zoological Society of India, in 1906. “We found out that the colour difference between the male and female was the major reason for which this species was confused as a different species,” said Mohapatra, who is a scientist with ZSI at its Central Zone Regional Centre at Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.
The snake’s presence is limited to Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Bangladesh. For more than 100 years, its separate colour scheme used to get the females clubbed with Brown Vine Snake and the males with Common Vine Snake. The females of the Variable Coloured Vine Snake are brown while the males are an attractive green.
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