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Scientists have discovered two new species of primary earthworms in the Western Ghats mountains in Kerala.
Specifically, researchers at Mahatma Gandhi University in Kerala and Shoolini University in Himachal Pradesh have named the new earthworm Drawida polydiverticulata and Drawida thomasi.
Drawida polydiverticulata worms have many lobes of the same genus in the front of the body.
The species is commonly found in protected shola grasslands in the Munnar region, including Eravikulam National Park, Pampadun Shola National Park and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, the researchers said.
A second species of earthworm named Drawida thomasi was collected at the Kozhippara Waterfall near Kakkadampoyil, on the border between Malappuram and Kozhikode.
In addition to the new worm species of the genus Moniligastridae discovered recently, the scientists also reported the emergence of five new species of worms of the same genus, but not officially recorded from the state.
So far, there are 73 species of worms belonging to the genus Drawida have been confirmed to live in the Indian subcontinent, the researchers said.
However, the largest concentration is 43 species found in the Western Ghats whose primary habitat is in Kerala, they say.
Before this study was published in the journal ZooKeys, there were sixteen worm species of the genus Drawida known from the state with 10 unique species.
The current discovery of these two new worms and the five most recent newly discovered contribute to the enrichment of the worms of the genus Drawida in the state.
Currently, there are about 200 species of worms belonging to the genus Drawida. Their habitats spread throughout India in the Indochina region to Southeast Asia to the north of Japan.