An altogether new and “mysterious” frog species has been discovered in India, reports the BBC.
The way this new species was discovered is quite a story. A Ph.D. student from Delhi University, Sonali Garg, had been exploring the Western Ghats of the Indian peninsula – a massively long mountain range which has been categorized by UNESCO as one of the eight “hottest hotspots” for biodiversity in the world. She was being accompanied by her supervisor, SD Biju, and the two together were carrying out extensive explorations which have been taking place for the last three years.
The scientists found the strange-looking, diminutive species of frog in a roadside puddle. As reported, the amphibian belongs to a new Indian frog group or genus which the scientists have named Mysticellus, a Latin word which means mysterious and small.
Since the discovery, biologists have confirmed that the narrow-mouthed frog represents an entirely new genus of microhylid frogs. As of now, the frogs have been spotted only in a single locality. It is perhaps one of the reasons that this species remained in the hiding for so long. Moreover, they only appear for breeding for four days and live an extraordinarily “secretive lifestyle,” making their discovery all the more phenomenal.
The Ph.D. student who spotted the species, Garg, said the discovery just goes to show why the Indian Western Ghats remain one of the most diverse biological hotspots in the world.
“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 recognized biodiversity hotspot is still far from being complete,” she said.
“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.”
Indian researchers have discovered a new species of frog in a roadside puddle in Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot in southern India — The species belongs to a new Indian frog group or genus which the scientists have named Mysticellushttps://t.co/UcDuxPW7Or pic.twitter.com/hqiMOPa3js
— Alfons López Tena #FBPE (@alfonslopeztena) February 13, 2019
Despite the Western Ghats of the Indian peninsula being extremely diverse and rich, scientists believe the unregulated processes of “development” are set to harm the ecology in more ways than one. Garg said that at the same time that new species are being discovered, other species are facing extinction because of human activity and encroachment.
“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,” she said.
[The featured image is only for representation purposes and does not actually show the Mysticellus.]