Eravikulam National Park, May 5 : 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 Eravikulam National Park is restricted to less than 3 sq km on the summit of Anamudi and deserves immediate conservation priority, said the scientists in the latest edition of "Current Science."
"Despite intensive searches in suitable habitat close to the type locality, we were unable to locate this species in any other place," said the team comprising SD Biju of Delhi University and Franky Bossuyt of the Free University of Brussels that have assigned it the name - Raorchestes resplendens.
The other members include Yogesh Shouche of National Centre for Cell Science, Pune, Alain Dubois, 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," said the scientists.
The first part of the generic name of this relative of the shrub frogs honours Prof C.R. Narayan Rao (1882 -1960), for his contributions to the study of amphibians. Rao taught zoology at Central College in the city.
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 burrowed the 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 may breed more than once in a single season. "The short limbs have resulted in a much more pronounced crawling behaviour in this species compared to its congeners," said the researchers.
Bossuyt and Biju have previously discovered a purple frog in the Western Ghats mountains that has a bulbous body and a pointy snout. They analyzed the animal’s DNA and demonstrated that its closest living relatives were the so-called sooglossids frogs of the Seychelles, an archipelago between India and Africa.
The newly-discovered 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.