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Lutrogale Perspicillata, the smooth indian otter

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Chapter Summary

Otters are fish-eating mustelids with a body that is perfectly adapted to their aquatic lifestyle. The smooth Indian otter is active on land as well where it may travel long distances, but it also enters the sea. There are two more otters in South Asia: the common otter (Lutra lutra) and the clawless or oriental small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinerea), which both are more cold-loving otters. The lack of any role of the otter in society is reflected by its rareness in stone sculptures. The only instances seem to be as part of a Himalayan setting in panels depicting the Hindu goddess Parvati, daughter of the mountains and wife of Shiva, and in early Buddhist narrative reliefs. The Shiva-Parvati panels with an otter seem limited to the twelfth and thirteenth century in Karnataka.

Keywords: clawless otter; common otter; narrative reliefs; small-clawed otter; smooth Indian otter; South Asia; stone sculpture

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