After five years of extensive explorations in the Western Ghats in India, researchers have discovered seven new frog species, known as Night Frogs.
The adorable creatures are among the smallest in the world, and four of the new species are tiny enough to fit on a fingernail.
Despite only just being discovered, the researchers warn that five of the new species are under direct threat of extinction, and urge environmentalists to set up conservation programmes immediately.
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The adorable creatures are among the smallest in the world, and four of the new species, including the Vijayan’s Night Frog (pictured) are tiny enough to fit on a fingernail
THE NEW SPECIES
The seven new species of night frog are:
1) Radcliffe’s Night Frog
2) Athirappilly Night Frog
3) Kadalar Night Frog
4) Sabarimala Night Frog
5) Vijayan’s Night Frog
6) Manalar Night Frog
7) Robin Moore’s Night Frog
Researchers from the University of Delhi discovered the frogs in the Western Ghats, which is known to be a hotspot for biodiversity in India.
Unlike other frogs in the genus that live in streams, the new miniature frogs were found under damp leaves and vegetation.
The researchers were surprised by the relative abundance of these previously unknown species at their collection localities.
Sonali Garg, who worked on the study, said: ‘The miniature species are locally abundant and fairly common but they have probably been overlooked because of their extremely small size, secretive habitats and insect-like calls.’
Unlike other frogs in the genus that live in streams, the new miniature frogs were found under damp leaves and vegetation. Pictured is the Manalar Night Frog
The 12.2 mm long Robinmoore’s Night Frog is small enough to comfortably sit on the Indian five-rupee coin (24 mm diameter)
In the lab, the frogs were confirmed as new species using DNA studies and detailed analysis of sounds the animals produce.
Until now, 28 species of Night frogs were known, but the new finding takes the total to 35 species.
The discovery of the new species can provide useful insights into the evolution of frogs in the Western Ghats.
The Manalar Night Frog measures 13.1 mm, and was discovered from a fragmented forest patch adjacent to tea plantations in the southern Western Ghats
Vijayan’s Night Frog is 13.6 mm long, and was discovered in the Agasthyamala hills in the Western Ghat
The past decade has seen a huge increase in the number of new amphibian species described from this region.
Of the 1,581 new species of amphibians found globally in 2006-2015, the highest number were from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, followed by the Western Ghats-Sri Lanka biodiversity hotspot, with 103 species described alone from the Western Ghats region.
The researchers were surprised by the relative abundance of these previously unknown species at their collection localities
But the researchers warn that the future of many of the new species may be bleak.
Professor SD Biju, who led the study, said: ‘Over 32 per cent, that is one-third of the Western Ghats frogs are already threatened with extinction.
‘Out of the seven new species, five are facing considerable anthropogenic threats and require immediate conservation prioritisation.’
The Sabarimala Night Frog is 12.3 mm long, and was found in close vicinity of the Sabarimala Pilgrimage centre in the Western Ghats
Pictured are the seven new species discovered – A. Radcliffe’s Night Frog, B. Athirappilly Night Frog, C. Kadalar Night Frog, D. Sabarimala Night Frog, E. Vijayan’s Night Frog, F. Manalar Night Frog, G. Robin Moore’s Night Frog