New Species of Frog Discovered in India

A team from Institute of Natural History Education and Research (INHER) and Pune forest division (wildlife) discovered new species of burrowing frog — Sphaerotheca paschima from Pune, Maharashtra in Eastern Ghats.

The Eastern Ghats or Kizhakku thodarchi malaigal or Pūrva Ghaṭ or toorpu kanumalu, also known as Mahendra Parvatam in the south, are a discontinuous range of mountains along India’s eastern coast.

The Eastern Ghats run from the northern Odisha through Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu in the south passing some parts of Karnataka. They are eroded and cut through by the four major rivers of peninsular India, known as the Godavari, Mahanadi, Krishna, and Kaveri.

Up to 30 species of amphibians including the Gunther’s toad (Bufo hololius), pond frogs (Euphlyctis), cricket frog (Fejervarya), bull frogs (Hoplobatrachus), burrowing frogs (Sphaerotheca), balloon frogs (Uperodon), small-mouthed frogs (Microhyla), and tree frog (Polypedates) found in Eastern Ghats of India.

It took two years for the researchers (2014-16) to identify the frog as a new species.

Word pashchima is a Marathi term for west direction, identifying the location where the species was discovered. The frog is mid-sized and robust. Has brown with yellow markings on the body and is 50-60mm in length.

Identified by its large, bulging eyes, short body, long legs and toes, burrowing frogs are semi-aquatic and are always found close to large water bodies. They are carnivorous animals that use their long, sticky tongue to catch their food and hunt spiders, worms and other insects.

The frogs are found near riverbanks, marshes, streams and lakes. The termed ‘burrowing’ comes from their ability to make burrows in grasslands and wetlands.