Four out of seven of the new species are miniature frogs which can comfortably sit on a coin or a thumbnail
Indian researchers have discovered seven new frog species in the mountainous region of Western Ghats. The newfound frogs also include four tiny species that range between 12.2-15.4 mm. These miniature frogs are so small they can comfortably sit on a coil or thumbnail.
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All of the newly discovered frog species belong to genus Nyctibatrachus, commonly known as Night Frogs, which is a group endemic to Southwestern India. The species from this genus are known to occur in five southern stretching from the southern tip of Indian Peninsula in Tamil to northern Maharashtra. The latest find is a result of five years of extensive explorations in India's leading biodiversity spot Western Ghats.
New miniature frog species were spotted on the leaf litter of a damp forest. This is unusual for genus Nyctibatrachus as most of their species are found in the streams. Researchers were also surprised to see the abundance of these frogs in their respective localities. These frog have probably not been spotted before because of their small size and almost hidden habitats.
“The miniature ones were the big surprise. It was believed miniature frogs less than 15mm were exceptions - we've found four.” Coresearcher Sonali Garg from University of Delhi told The Telegraph India.
Evidence from multiple sources has confirmed that these species have not been seen or reported by science before. The Night Frog genus was previously known for 28 recognized species of which only three were less than 18 mm. Now the total number of known species in the genus has increased to 35. However, the future is looking very grim for all these new amphibians. Each of these described species is currently known only from single localities in the southern Western Ghats and some are even outside protected areas.
Prof SD Biju, who led the new study and has also described more than 80 new species of amphibians from India, says."Over 32 percent, 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 prioritization.”