New frog species discovered in Western Ghats

By PTI Published on Feb 24, 2017 11:45 AM IST

Thiruvananthapuram: Seven new frog species belonging to the genus Nyctibatrachus, commonly known as Night Frogs, have been discovered by scientists in the Western Ghats of Kerala and Tamilnadu.

Out of the seven, four are miniature-sized species whichare among the smallest known frogs in the world, Prof S D Biju, who led the new study team said in a release here.

"Over 32 per cent, that is one-third of the Western Ghats frogs, are already threatened with extinction. Out of the seven new species, five are facing considerable anthropogenic threats and require immediate conservation", he said.

Four out of seven of the new species were miniature-sized frogs (12.2–15.4 mm), which can comfortably sit on a coin or a thumbnail. These are among the smallest known frogs in the world, Sonali Garg who undertook the study as part of her PhD research at University of Delhi said.

Unlike other frogs in the genus that are predominantly stream dwelling, the new miniature frogs were found under damp forest leaf litter or marsh vegetation", scientists said.

The discovery of several new species of ancient origin could provide useful insights into the evolution of endemic frog lineages in the Western Ghats, which is a leading amphibian hotpot, Biju said.

Athirappilly Night Frog was discovered in close vicinity of the Athirappilly falls, site for a proposed mega hydroelectric project in Thrissur district in Kerala. The Sabarimala Night frog was found in the surroundings of Lord Ayappa temple at Sabarimala, a pilgrim centre located inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve, Biju said.

"These species have been named after their collection localities in order to highlight the threats they might be facing due to anthropogenic disturbance", he said.