Scientists have discovered a new bright reddish-orange-coloured frog with multiple glands and extremely short limbs from the highest mountain peak of the Western Ghats.
The newly discovered species, located in the Eravikulam National Park, is restricted to less than three sq. km on the summit of Anamudi and deserves immediate conservation priority, scientists said in the latest edition of Current Science.
“Despite intensive searches in a suitable habitat close to the type locality, we were unable to locate this species in any other place,” said the team — comprising S.D. Biju of Delhi University and Franky Bossuyt of the Free University of Brussels — which has assigned the frog the name Raorchestes resplendens.
The other members of the team include Yogesh Shouche of the National Centre for Cell Science, Pune, Alain Dubois of the France-based Reptiles et Amphibians, and S. Dutta from North Orissa University.
“One of the most striking features of the frog is the presence of numerous macroglands, which is absent in all species of Philautus, Pseudophilatus and Raorchestes presently known and thus are derived characters,” the scientists said.
The first part of the generic name of this relative of the shrub frogs honours Professor C.R. Narayan Rao (1882-1960) for his contributions to the study of amphibians. Professor Rao taught zoology at Central College here.
The latter part of the name Raorchestes is based on the first-ever generic name coined for frogs — Orchestes.
The scientists found that the female buried eggs under the moss-covered forest floor, deep inside the base of bamboo clumps. Later, they observed the eggs hatching from what looked like glass bubbles in their lab.
The observations have also suggested that the female may mate with multiple males or breed more than once in a single season. “The short limbs have resulted in a more pronounced crawling behaviour in this species compared to its congeners,” the researchers added.
Dr. Bossuyt and Professor Biju previously discovered a purple frog with a bulbous body and pointy snout in the peaks of the Western Ghats. They analysed the amphibian’s DNA and demonstrated that its closest living relatives were the so-called ‘Sooglossids frogs’ of the Seychelles.
The species, dubbed Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis, diverged from the Sooglossids about 130 million years ago, prior to the break-up of India and the Seychelles around 65 million years ago.