Wildlife & Biodiversity

New species of frog discovered in Western Ghats

It has been named Ghatixalus magnus after its large size, making it the biggest known tree frog in the Western Ghats

By Rajeshwari Ganesan
Published: Thursday 26 November 2015

Ghatixalus magnus (left) and Raorchestes flaviventris found in the Western Ghats (Photos by special arrangement)

In yet another discovery of a new species in the Western Ghats, a team of scientists has observed a large, hitherto unknown tree frog endemic to the region. 

The team comprising Robin Kurian Abraham from the University of Kansas, Jobin K Mathew from Malappuram, Vivek Philip Cyriac from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Arun Zachariah from Centre for Wildlife Studies, Wayanad, David V Raju from Kottayam and Anil Zachariah from Wayanad, discovered the tree frog during field work in the mid-elevation hill forests of the Western Ghats in Kerala.

The new species of Rhacophorid tree frog is ascribed to the genus Ghatixalus based on "a unique combination of molecular, morphological and larval characteristics". It has been named Ghatixalus magnus after its large size, making it the biggest known tree frog in the Western Ghats. The Rhacophoridae family consists predominantly of arboreal tree-frogs.

"With the description of Ghatixalus magnus, there are now three nominal species in this Western Ghats endemic genus of montane frogs. This novel species potentially represents the largest known rhacophorid species in peninsular India, attaining an average male body size of 76 mm," said the authors. The discovery has been published in the latest issue of International Taxonomic Journal Zootaxa.

The team has also rediscovered a species of rhacophorid bush frog which, scientists say, has been elusive for the past few decades. Raorchestes flaviventris, the rediscovered species, was described by George Albert Boulenger in 1882 when it was discovered by him in the Western Ghats. However, experts claim it had never been sighted since. The frog was rediscovered by the team in Kerala’s Idukki district after 132 years.

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