Western Ghats Current Affairs - 2019

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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.

Background

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.

Tyrannomyrmex alii: New ant species discovered in the Western Ghats

Researchers have discovered new species of ant in the Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala in Western Ghats, as one of the world’s ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity. It has been named Tyrannomyrmex alii (or T. alii), after eminent myrmecologist Musthak Ali, who is regarded as the India’s ‘ant man’.

Key Facts

Tyrannomyrmex alii belongs to Tyrannomyrmex, a rare tropical genus of ants. It was discovered from Vallakadavu range of Western Ghats. It can be distinguished from other species of same genus through its morphological characteristics. It has petiolar shape.

Tyrannomyrmex is a rare myrmicine (subfamily of ants) ant genus that is distributed in Indomalayan bio-region that extends from southern India and Sri Lanka to southeast Asia. T. alli has is fourth species of the rare genus Tyrannomyrmex and the second one from India. The first species of genus was Tyrannomyrmex rex Fernández, was discovered in 2003 in Pasoh Forest Reserve, Malaysia. Later two more species Tyrannomyrmex dux (or T. dux) from the Ponmudi hills in 2007 and T. legatus from Sinharaja Forest Reserve in Sri Lanka in 2013 were discovered.  Both of Tyrannomyrmex species that described from India are known from Western Ghats range in Kerala.