- An Indian and British team of biologists have discovered four new species of horned frogs in the Northeast, ending a 15-year confusion on the amphibians’ nomenclature.
- This has been the result of a 14-year study that was a joint effort by Delhi University, University College Dublin, Ireland, and Natural History Museum (UK).
- The study was published recently as a monograph in the scientific journal Zootaxa.
- Findings of study:
- The study found that Jerdon’s white-lipped horned frog is not as wide ranging as previously thought.
- It is restricted to a few recently discovered populations in Nagaland and Manipur, and near Sohra (Cherrapunjee) in Meghalaya where it was first discovered in 1870 .
- The four new species discovered have been named as the following:
- Himalayan horned frog (Megophrys himalayana),
- Garo white-lipped horned frog (Megophrys oreocrypta)
- Yellow spotted white-lipped horned frog (Megophrys flavipunctata)
- Giant Himalayan horned frog (Megophrys periosa)
- They are named horned frogs because of the fleshy horn-like projection on the upper eyelids.
- They are genetically distinct and are found in different regions.
- The smallest among the four forest dwelling frogs is the Yellow spotted white-lipped horned frog (5.7–7.5 cm) while the largest is the Giant Himalayan horned frog (7.1–11.2 cm), making the latter the largest out of the 15 horned frog species now known to occur in Northeast India.
- The implication of this study is that all remaining frog populations throughout Asia could represent unique new species that are yet to be named.
- Northeast India is rich in amphibian diversity but despite being part of two globally recognised biodiversity hotspots (Himalayas and Indo-Burma).
- Globally there are 80 known species of horned frogs including 15 found in India.