Thumbnail-size frog named Microhyla Laterite discovered in India’s wastelands

Mar 14, 2016 12:15 IST

A team of researchers, including scientists from Gubbi Labs, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) and the National University of Singapore, discovered a new species of frog in the laterite rock formations of India's coastal plains.

The tiny frog measures 1.7 cm and is called Laterite narrow-mouthed frog (Microhyla laterite), after the laterite rock formation from where the frog was discovered.

The research paper about the frog’s discovery was published on 9 March 2016 in PLOS One journal.

The new species belongs to the genus Microhyla, which now comprises 39 species, distributed across South and Southeast Asia.

This study was conducted along the West coast of India. The new species of Microhyla was observed between years 2013–2015 in laterite habitats in and around the coastal town of Manipal, Udupi District, Karnataka.

The researcher’s analysis showed that the frog is found only in a 150 sq km area of coastal Karnataka, making it eligible for a classification under the endangered category of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

India’s wasteland

Laterite is a predominant metamorphic rock formation common along the west coast of India.

It dates back to about 35 million years, and is a result of the weathering process.

Due to their rocky appearance and lack of trees, laterite plateaus are considered wastelands and are heavily mined for construction material in the form of bricks.

Though devoid of tertiary vegetation, these areas are rich in microhabitats as there is an abundance of ephemeral pools and associated vegetation.

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