New Earthworm Species Discovered in India

IAS Prelims 2023

Two new primitive species of earthworm were discovered by a team of Indian researchers in the Western Ghats mountain ranges in Kerala.

The new earthworm species named Drawida polydiverticulata and Drawida thomasi are distinguished by a set of characters.

For Drawida polydiverticulata, its multiple lobes, also called diverticulums – an organ located in the front of its body – are unique amongst the members of the genus.

This species was found to be widespread in the protected shola grasslands of the Munnar region, including Eravikulam National Park, Pampadun Shola National Park and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.

The second new earthworm, Drawida thomasi, was collected at the Kozhippara Waterfalls near Kakkadampoyil, at the border between Malappuram and Kozhikode.

In addition to the new species belonging to the primitive family Moniligastridae, the scientists also report the occurrence of five species of the same genus that have not previously been recorded from the state.

To date, there are 73 species of the genus Drawida confirmed to be living in the Indian subcontinent.

However, the greatest concentration (43 species) is found in the Western Ghats. The genus has an important centre of speciation in Kerala.

At present, there are about 200 species known in the genus Drawida. Their habitats are spread across India throughout the Indo-China region to southeastern Asia and up to the north in Japan.