Delhi University researchers have discovered a new species of narrow-mouthed frogs in a roadside puddle in Kerala. Sonali Garg, a PhD student, and her research supervisor Professor SD Biju have named the new genus Mysticellus – derived from the Latin word meaning mysterious and diminutive.
The findings were published in the February edition of the nature journal Scientific Reports. “Our discovery of this new frog genus from one of the most explored and researched regions in the Western Ghats indicates that documentation of amphibians in this globally recognized biodiversity hotspot is still far from being complete,” Garg told the website Nature in Focus. “This frog went unnoticed until now probably because it appears for less than four days for breeding activities and lives a secretive lifestyle for rest of the year.”
The researchers discovered the new species after three years of extensive field and laboratory study. On its lower back, the Mysticellus has two black “false-eye” like spots. At the time of calling, males raised the hind part of their body displaying the two spots, researchers found. If the individuals are disturbed, similar behaviour is observed, researchers added.
The frogs are currently found in only site in the Western Ghats, where a number of new species of the amphibians have been discovered in the past decade. The Ghats are considered to be one of the leading biodiversity hotspots in the world.
“Indian amphibians face various extinction threats, especially due to habitat loss and degradation,” Garg told BBC. “The only known population of the new genus is found in a wayside area disturbed with vehicular movement, plantation activities and human settlements.”
Garg said the site where the animals are found needs to be preserved “since little is known about the habitat requirements and the distribution range of the new frog”.