Herpetofauna Collection

The collection has about 5000 specimens belong to 150 species of amphibians of the Indian subcontinent. This section holds one of the largest collections of Indian caecilians in the world which comprises of 21 species from 4 families. There are specimen of Himalayan Newt (Pleurodeles verrucosus), the only known tailed amphibian from India, Koyna Toad (Bufo koynayensis), one of the smallest and endemic species of toad, Malabar Tree Toad (Pedostibes tuberculosis) and Purple or Pig-nosed Frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis) in this collection. Apart from this type specimens of most of the newly described species of caecilians and frogs are present in this collection.

There is collaboration between experts on caecilians from BNHS and Natural History Museum, London. This partnership is responsible for the discovery of two new species of caecilians from Maharashtra. Another major contribution from this group is the first report of viviparity in Asian amphibians and Indo-Seychellean caeciliids.

There is an exceptional collection of the type specimens of frogs and toads in this collection. It is represented by 69 type specimens belonging to 2 species of toads and 17 species of frogs in this collection. Of which 16 are holotypes and 53 specimens of paratypes belonging to 16 species. Interestingly the type specimens of most of the recently described species of frogs are in this collection. This is a result of an immense contribution from Dr. S.D. Biju of Delhi University and Dr. Kuramoto of Japan.

There are 43 type specimens belonging to 10 species of caecilians in this collection. Of which 7 are holotypes, 13 specimens of paratopotypes belonging to 2 species and 23 specimens of partypes of 6 species.

Reptile Section

This collection is mainly divided into two parts: lizards and snakes.  The rich collection of lizards with about 1900 preserved specimens belonging to 11 families and 185 species collected from the Indian Peninsula represents the uniqueness of the collection. There are specimens of Persian Gecko (Hemidactylus persicus) and Persia Sand Gecko (Tropiocolotes persicus). These two species are recently reported from India. There are specimens of recently described species of a geckos, Hemidactylus aaronbaueri, Hemidactylus sataraensis and Cnemaspis kolhapurensis in this collection.

There are 10 type specimens belonging to 5 species of lizards of which 3 are holotypes, 6 paratypes and 1 neotype.

This diverse collection of lizards is responsible for recent publications on the taxonomic status of some of the endemic geckos of India. This study was a collaborative effort between Dr. Aaron M. Bauer of Villanova University, USA, who is distinguished lizard taxonomist and the BNHS. This collaboration is resulted in the discovery of three new species of lizards also.

With a total of about 3400 specimens from 10 families and 240 species, the collection of snake is also equally diverse. Apart from this there are a few extralimital species of snakes are also present in the collection. One of the invaluable holding is the specimens of Indian Egg Eater (Elachistodon westermanni). This species was thought to be extinct and was recently rediscovered in Maharashtra by Mr. Ashok Captain and his team.

The type collection of snakes is also rich with 44 specimens belonging to 4 families, 13 genera and 16 species in this collection. Of this 6 are holotypes, 26 specimens of paratypes, 7 are syntypes and 2 cotypes.