Friday, March 22, 2013

A New Frog Species From Western Ghats

The word amphibia means dual mode of life. Just like the name the members of class Amphibia are adapted for living both on land as well as water. Salamanders, frogs and toads are the important members of this class loaded with magnificent features that enable these creatures to survive in diverse array of environments. Frogs and toads are very closely related but have striking differences. The purple frog is an astounding species of frog placed in the family Sooglossidae. Scientifically this species is known as Nasikabatrachus sayhyadrensis which prefers to dwell in the Western Ghats of India. The common names of this frog are purple frog, Indian purple frog and pignose frog. The frog has been discovered recently in October 2003 by S.D. Biju and F. Bossyut. This species is very remarkable among all the species of animals inhabiting Western Ghats. Its closest relatives are Seychelles and it is believed that Nasikabatrachus sayhyadrensis have evolved separately for the millennia. Its evolution provides strong evidence to the clue that Madagascar and Seychelles got separated from the Indian landmass when Gondwanaland started separating. Due to its ancient lineage the purple frog is also known as coelacanth of the frogs.


The body structure of Nasikabatrachus sayhyadrensis is built on the same plan like that of the other frogs but is somewhat more rounded and dorso-ventrally flattened when compared with other frogs. The arms and legs follow the basic pattern of anuran body plan. The head is somewhat small with a pointed snout. The color of the adults is generally dark purple. The specimens generally measure seven centimeters from the tip of the snout to the tip of the urostyle. The sound produced by this species of the frog resembles like that produced by the chicken.

The frog spends most of the time underground but comes on ground only for two weeks during the monsoon season for the purpose of breeding. The unique life cycle of this species is responsible for late discovery. Unlike many other underground species that come on land for the purpose of feeding this species of frog prefers to feed on underground food materials like termites and dead leaves captured by its long, protrusible and sticky tongue. The tongue is lodged in a special buccal groove. Mating is known to occur in temporary rainwater pools by inguinal amplexus.


The frog was first discovered in the Idukki district of Kerala by S.D. Biju from the Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute in Palode, India and Franky Bossyut from Vrije Universiteit Brussel. But the frog species was known to the local people and the earlier specimens were ignored by biologists due to misunderstanding. Earlier it was thought that this species was restricted to the Western Ghats south of the Palghat gap but new records have further extended its distribution.

The genus name has been derived from a Sanskrit word Nasika meaning nose applied to the pointed nose of the frog and the word batrachus comes from a Greek word while the specific name has been derived from the local name of the mountain in the Western Ghats. The frog is a living fossil.

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