Nyctibatrachus mewasinghi: New night frog species discovered in Western Ghats
Scientists have discovered new species of frog named Mewa Singh’s night frog (Nyctibatrachus mewasinghi) in Kozhikode’s Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala in Western Ghats. It was discovered in small stream running along the Peruvannamuzhi dam. It is latest contribution to spurt in amphibian discoveries across India.
About Mewa Singh’s night frog
It belongs to genus Nyctibatrachus (commonly known as night frogs) endemic only to Western Ghats mountain range. This group has total 36 number of night frogs including Mewa Singh’s night frog. It has been named in honour of wildlife scientist Mewa Singh for his contributions to behavioural ecology and primate studies.
The new night frog species is light brown in colour with an off-white underside. It sports faintly wrinkled skin with prominent granular projections. Currently, it is known only from Peruvannamuzhi in Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary in a small stream running along Peruvannamuzhi dam.
Since many frogs in genus Nyctibatrachus look similar, scientists had used both physical characteristics as well as genetic methods to confirm frog as new species. Using tissue samples of 10 collected specimens of newly discovered species, scientists analysed portions of two genes and found that it varied enough from other closely-related species to make it different species.
They also had found that frog’s genetically closest relatives are Athirappilly night frog (found south of Palakkad Gap in Idukki and Thrissur) and Kempholey night frog (found in Western Ghats of Karnataka and northern Kerala).
Morphologically, it can be distinguished from its similar-looking and genetically close relatives by several physical characteristics, including pattern of its webbed fingers and toes.