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IND Press: Honour for zoologist - New amphibian species named after him

wes_von_papineäu

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THE HINDU (Chennai, India) 07 November 07 Honour for zoologist - New amphibian species named after him
Thiruvananthapuram: Sharing one’s name with a slimy worm-like creature may not appeal to most people but for zoologist Oommen V. Oommen, it means a highpoint in his academic career.
Dr. Oommen who heads the Department of Zoology, University of Kerala, has had the rare honour of a new species of caecilian (limbless) amphibian named after him. He had discovered the species in the Western Ghats in 1987.
The announcement naming the amphibian after Dr. Oommen appeared in the latest issue of the international science journal Herpetologica.
The journal describes the species as Uraeotyphlus oommeni, in recognition of Dr. Oommen’s contribution to the understanding of the physiology, systematics, ecology and reproductive biology of the caecilians of the south Western Ghats.
As a suggested common name, it proposes the name Oommen’s Uraeotyphlus.
The specimen of the species mentioned in the journal was collected from Bonacaud.
The discovery and description of new species after more than 200 years of research points to the lack of study, both in the field and the laboratory, Dr. Oommen says. “At least half of the eight new amphibian species discovered after 1998 are known to inhabit gardens or plantations; yet they had gone unnoticed by scientists.”
The intrinsic biology of caecilians makes their study challenging. The Indian caecilian amphibian burrows the soil and a special digging effort is required to bring it out. “Wading in muddy fields to fish out slimy creatures will put off all but the most dedicated researcher,” Dr. Oommen says.
Research programme
During 2000-04, Dr. Oommen had participated in a research programme under a partnership between the University of Kerala and the Natural History Museum, London. The joint team of scientists from India and the U.K. recorded a 57 per cent increase in caecilian amphibian diversity.
As many as 20 research papers were published under the project.
For scientists in India, the challenge of discovering new species has been compounded by the lack of arrangements for international loans and exposure to Western collections and scientists. Dr. Oommen recommends the application of modern techniques, such as molecular analysis, to aid the search for new amphibian species.
http://www.hindu.com/2007/11/07/stories/2007110755450500.htm
 
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