The frog that leaped into today

A remarkable evolutionary find

Published: Saturday 15 November 2003

Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis s (Credit: S D Biju)biologists have discovered a frog whose ancestors hopped around the feet of dinosaurs, more than 65 million years ago. The purple, small-headed creature with tiny eyes, protruding snout and a bloated appearance belongs to a family of frogs, which scientists thought had disappeared millions of years ago. Franky Bossuyt, an evolutionary biologist at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium, along with S D Biju of the Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute in Kerala, discovered the frog in the Western Ghats. The chubby, three-inch creature has been dubbed Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis from the Sanskrit word for nose (nasika); batrachus meaning frog and sahyadri, the name for Western Ghats.

Scientists had earlier estimated that the family tree of frogs diverged about 230 million years ago. N sahyadrensis shows there was a lineage 130 million years ago on the ancient super-continent of Gondwana incorporating South America, Africa, Indo-Madagascar (India, Madagascar and Seychelles), Australia and Antarctica.

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