A new species of frog has been discovered in the Western Ghats located in the southern part of India. A PhD student at Delhi University named Sonali Garg, along with her supervisor SD Biju, discovered the new species that belongs to a new Indian frog group (or genus) which they have given the name Mysticellus. The Latin name Mysticellus appropriately translates to mysterious and diminutive.
The narrow-mouthed frog was located from a temporary wayside puddle in Peninsular India after the scientists spent three years searching and exploring the area. This new species and genus of microhylid frogs are currently only known in one single location. Garg went into further detail on this exciting new finding, “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.”
There seems to be a pretty good explanation as to why it’s never been seen before. “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,” Garg explained.
The closest relative to this frog lives over 2,000 kilometers away in Southeast Asia. This new species separated from its Asian relatives approximately 40 million years ago during the Eocene epoch.
The Western Ghats is one of the leading biodiversity hotspots on our planet as several new species of frogs have been found there over the last decade. Since the area in which the new species of frog has been discovered has humans living around there, a lot of vehicles, and plantation activities, they could be faced with the threat of extinction from loss of habitat. “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,” Garg stated.
In 2016, a new type of tadpole that burrows through sand, as well as a tree frog that was previously thought to be extinct for more than a century, were both discovered in the Western Ghats. And in 2017, four other new species of burrowing frogs belonging to the Indian frog group Fejervarya were discovered there.