Indian scientists have found a tiny new frog species, about 1.7 cms in size, from laterite rocks in western India., when they were conducting a citizen science initiative.
The new species, Microphyla laterite, also known as the laterite narrow-mouthed frog, is the 39th member of the genus Microphyla that is distributed across South Asia and South-East Asia.
Sadly, the laterite rocks of western India where the new frog was found, are considered a wasteland in the country and heavily mined for construction materials. They are also grounds for dumping of municipal wastes, fuelwood collection, encroachment, vehicles washing and conversion to plantations.
A report in PLoS One says that the Indian subcontinent is one of few regions in the Old World to harbor a rich diversity of amphibians and currently, there are 391 species recorded from India, predominantly from the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas.
A total of 220 amphibian species are recorded from the Western Ghats and several more are expected to be described in the near future, it says. The species novelties being described are often from genera that are endemic to the Western Ghats (for example, Beddomixalus, Ghatixalus, Indirana, Mercurana, Micrixalus, Nyctibatrachus, Raorchestes) but such discoveries from widespread genera like Microhyla, Hoplobatrachus, Fejervarya and Euphlyctis are uncommon.
The new species came to light during citizens science surveys from April to August from 2013-2015.
It was found to be restricted to laterite habitats near rural and peri-urban areas. It inhabits ephemeral ponds and other marshy areas in laterite habitats and also occurs in wet paddy fields where the frogs were observed to vocalize from the embankment.
Link to the full report in PLoS One: