Western Ghats Current Affairs - 2019

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Scientists discover four new miniature frog species in Western Ghats

Scientists have discovered four new species of miniature night frogs no bigger than a human thumbnail in Western Ghats, a global biodiversity hotspot.

These species were discovered among the seven new ‘Night Frogs’ by a team of researchers from the University of Delhi and Kerala Forest Department.

Key Facts
  • Four new species of miniature night frogs are (i) Athirappilly Night Frog: It was discovered close to the Athirappilly waterfalls. (ii) Sabarimala Night Frog: It was discovered near the Sabarimala hill shrine.  (iii) The Radcliffe’s Night frog and (iv) Kadalar Night Frog: They were reported from plantation areas.
  • Night Frogs belong to the Nyctibatrachus genus, endemic to the Western Ghats. They make a distinctive chirping sound comparable to that of a cricket.
  • These tiny amphibians are present in abundance in the region but were overlooked in the past because of their extremely small size, secretive habitats and insect-like calls.
  • They were confirmed as the new species with the help of integrated taxonomic approach that included DNA studies, detailed bioacoustics and morphological comparisons.
  • Threats: Over 32% of the frog species in the Western Ghats are threatened with extinction. Out of the seven new species, 5 face considerable anthropogenic extinction threats and require immediate conservation.
  • Ancient Group: Night Frogs represent an ancient group of frogs that diversified on the Indian landmass approximately 70 to 80 million years ago.
  • Total Nyctibatrachus species: This discovery has taken the total number of known Nyctibatrachus species to 35, of which 20% are less than 18 mm in size (i.e. they are diminutive).
  • As many as 103 new amphibian species were discovered from biodiversity rich Western Ghats region between 2006 and 2015.

Sand-eating Micrixalus herrei tadpoles species found in Western Ghats

Researchers have discovered Sand-eating tadpole species named Micrixalus herrei in Western Ghats. The tadpole belongs to the so-called Indian Dancing Frog family, Micrixalidae.

They were discovered from the deep recesses of streambeds in the Western Ghats

Key facts

  • They get their name Micrixalidae, from their habit of waving their legs as a sign of territorial and sexual display while sitting on boulders in streams.
  • It lives in total darkness i.e. they are of fossorial [underground] nature and comes out after fully developing into a young frog.
  • Their fossorial nature is considered as a rare occurrence in the amphibian world.
  • These tadpole species have purple colour and possess muscular eel-like bodies. They have skin-covered eyes, which helps them to burrow through gravel beds.
  • They lack teeth but have powerful suckering mouths and have serrated jaw sheaths in order to prevent large sand grains from entering the mouth while feeding and moving through sand.
  • These tadpoles have ribs and whitish globular sacs also known as lime sacs for storing calcium carbonate.