New frog species discovered in Western Ghats

New frog species discovered in Western Ghats

The Astrobatrachus kurichiyana

An international research team, with members from IISc, have discovered a new species of frog in the Western Ghats. 

The frog, called Astrobatrachus kurichiyana, was initially encountered in 2010 by a team from the IISc's Centre for Ecological Sciences during a large-scale survey of the region, but remained unidentified for several years.

The recent identification comes after SP Vijayakumar and Karthik Shanker returned to the Ghats to locate the frog with a team of international researchers. According to a release by the IISc, the team had to undertake a lot of work owing to the frog's confusing colour patterns and strange morphological characteristics before they could announce the discovery of the species.

The new species, Astrobatrachus kurichiyana, is named after the starry spots on its body (Astrobatrachus) and the Kuchiriya tribe in Wayanad, where the frog was discovered. The IISc report says that the discovery of an entirely new genus and sub-family is rare.

The frog is known only to be present in the Kurchiyarmala peak of Wayanad. It is secretive and remains below leaf litter under the thick tree canopy of the shola forests in the region. The report also says that there remains much to be learned, not just about this frog, but also others that might be hiding in these biodiversity-rich forests.