THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A tiny, new species of frog has been discovered from the Western Ghats. Christened Minervarya Pentali, the frog has been named after the former vice chancellor and renowned Indian plant geneticist Deepak Pental. The frog belongs to the family Dicroglossidae and is endemic to the southern Western Ghats.
The new species was discovered from the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot by the researchers from the Delhi University. The team includes the Delhi University researchers S D Biju and Sonali Garg.
According to them, the discovery was made as part of a comprehensive study on a considerably large, common yet confusing group of Indian frogs – of genus Minervarya – carried out over a period of nearly 10 years. The new species was identified based on multiple criteria, such as external morphology, DNA and calling pattern.
“We discovered it from wayside vegetation at multiple localities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, while surveying amphibians during the monsoon season. This species is also among the smallest known Minervaryan frogs,” said Sonali Garg, the lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher at the Delhi University.
The findings have been published in an article titled ‘DNA Barcoding and Systematic Review of Minervaryan Frogs (Dicroglossidae: Minervarya) of Peninsular India: Resolution of a Taxonomic Conundrum with Description of a New Species’ in the international journal Asian Herpetological Research. “It is a privilege to name a frog species after professor Deepak Pental, the former vice chancellor of the University of Delhi, in appreciation of his tremendous support and encouragement for setting-up of the Systematics Lab at University of Delhi,” said professor Biju, the head of the Department of Environmental Studies.