Western Ghats Current Affairs - 2020

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.

Nasikabatrachus bhupathi: New frog species with pig face discovered

Indian scientists have discovered Nasikabatrachus bhupathi, a new species of frog that has a snout-shaped nose, just like a pig in West Ghats. It has been named after the Indian herpetologist S. Bhupathy.

Nasikabatrachus bhupathi species show comparisons with the Purple frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis) which was discovered in 2003 in Seychelles.

Nasikabatrachus bhupathi

Nasikabatrachus bhupathi is soiled-dwelling species of purple frog. It inhabits the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats, near the Srivilliputhur Grizzled Giant Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu.

It differs from the Purple frog morphologically and acoustically. It is dark brown in colour and each of its calls consists of four distinct pulses while the Purple frog pauses once between its three-pulse-call.

Significance of Discovery

The discovery is significant as it constitutes additional evidence in favour of the continental drift theory. The Purple frog inhabitant of Seychelles, and discovery of Nasikabatrachus bhupathi in India suggests that Indian subcontinent was part of ancient landmass of Gondwana before splitting from Seychelles 65 million years ago.