A new species of frog found in Northeast

A new species of frog found in Northeast
NEW DELHI/ TEXAS, JUN 11 | Publish Date: 6/11/2019 11:43:37 AM IST

Scientists from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and University of Delhi in collaboration with Researchers from Indonesia and America have discovered a remarkably beautiful new frog belonging genus Micryletta from the Northeast of India.

These narrow-mouthed frogs (family Microhylidae) are distributed in Southeast Asia where they are called as paddy frogs. The first known species of this group was discovered from the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. The latest one is a brand new species from Northeast part of India.

The newly discovered Micryletta frog from Northeast India was confirmed as a new species by detailed comparison of both DNA and morphology with all previously known members across Southeast and East Asia. It is now formally described as the fifth member of the narrow-mouthed paddy frog genus Micryletta.

The first discovery of the new species was made from abandoned tea plantation and Jhum cultivation areas in Cachar district of Assam. However, their study also reports the new species from the North-eastern states of Tripura and Manipur. “I am happy for this discovery as it emphasizes the importance biological survey in remnant and degraded habitats. Our discovery shows that even fairly common frogs usually found closer to human habitations are still not documented properly. More extensive studies are required to scientifically identify and describe the North-eastern frogs which are already facing extinction threats from various human activities”, says Dr Abhijit Das, from Wildlife Institute of India.

The past decade has witnessed an exponential increase in the number of new amphibian species described from India, particularly the Western Ghats region that has currently over 250 known species. However, the rate of discovery and description of novelties from Northeast India has been relatively slower compared to the Western Ghats. “The actual number of frog species in Northeast India is much higher than the current estimates. What remains is for us to carry out dedicated surveys in unexplored regions and undertake comprehensive studies using integrative taxonomy, just like the Western Ghats where the number of known amphibian species has nearly doubled within a short span of ten years, making it one of the leading biodiversity hotspots in the world with an unprecedented rate of new frog discoveries” says Prof S. D. Biju from University of Delhi.

The new species is named aishani, derived from the Sanskrit word ‘aishani’ or aisani (meaning north-east), referring to the Northeast regions of India where this frog was discovered. Micrylettaaishani strikingly differs from other narrow-mouthed paddy frogs by characters such as reddish-brown coloration on back, prominent dark streaks and ash-grey mottling on the lateral sides, shape of the snout, and absence of web on its feet. 

The DNA analyses in the new study also indicate the presence of more undescribed species in this genus from Southeast Asian regions such as Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“The new species is likely to be more widely distributed in Northeast India, particularly the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot region that lies south of River Brahmaputra. Micrylettaaishani is currently endemic to Northeast India but it could very well be present in the neighbouring regions of Bangladesh and Myanmar” says Dr SonaliGarg from University of Delhi.


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