Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: In an exciting find, scientists have discovered as many as 14 new species of dancing frogs from the forests of Western Ghats in southern India.
The discoveries are a result of extensive field studies conducted across the mountains of Western Ghats, covering Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra over the last 12 years, said Prof S D Biju from University of Delhi, who led the team which discovered the tiny acrobatic amphibians.
The new species of so-called dancing frogs were identified by the Indian biologists using molecular markers and morphological characters.
Scientifically known as Micrixalidae, the family of Indian dancing frogs comprises a single genus Micrixalus, Biju said.
This ancient group of frogs evolved approximately 85 million years ago, and is known to be found only in the Western Ghats, he said.
Members of the dancing frog genus usually occur in splash zones of fast flowing perennial hill streams. Males exhibit a remarkable behaviour of foot-flagging akin to `dancing`, to attract females, due to which scientists have attributed them the common name, Indian Dancing Frogs.
Previously, only 11 species were recognised in this endemic family and these were also poorly known from patchy information about their geographical distribution and life style.
However, the discovery made by Biju and his team has resulted in more than two-fold increase in the number of known species from this ancient frog family.
It is also the first comprehensive scientific work available on these frogs.
The Western Ghats is a global biodiversity hot-spot with high species richness as well as generic and familial endemism.
This new finding was revealed in a scientific article by Biju along with his fellow researchers Sonali Garg (University of Delhi), K V Gururaja (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore), Yogesh Shouche and Sandeep A W (National Center for Cell Science, Pune).
Other dancing frogs are found in Central America and Southeast Asia, but the Indian family evolved separately about 85 million years ago.
With PTI Inputs