Indian researchers have discovered a new species of frog – in a roadside puddle.
Sonali Garg, a PhD student at Delhi University, and her supervisor SD Biju found the new species in the Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot in southern India.
The species belongs to a new Indian frog group or genus which the scientists have named Mysticellus.
The name is derived from Latin and means mysterious and diminutive.
The scientists discovered the narrow-mouthed frog after three years of extensive explorations, and have confirmed that it represents an entirely new species and genus of microhylid frogs.
The new genus is currently known only in a single locality.
“Our discovery of this new frog genus from one of the most explored and researched regions in the Western Ghats indicates that documentation of amphibians in this globally recognised biodiversity hotspot is still far from being complete,” says Sonali Garg.
“This frog went unnoticed until now probably because it appears for less than four days for breeding activities and lives a secretive lifestyle for the rest of the year.”
A number of new frog species have been discovered in the Western Ghats in the past decade, making it one of the leading biodiversity hotspots in the world.
“At the same time, Indian amphibians face various extinction threats, especially due to habitat loss and degradation. The only known population of the new genus is found in a wayside area disturbed with vehicular movement, plantation activities and human settlements,” says Ms Garg.
“Since little is known about the habitat requirements and the distribution range of the new frog, the specific site needs to be preserved to protect this frog.”
A new tadpole that burrows through sand was discovered in Western Ghats in 2016, and an extraordinary tree frog thought to have died out more than a century ago was also rediscovered in the same year.
In 2017, four new species of burrowing frogs were discovered in the region.