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Indian scientists have discovered new 14 species of dancing frogs in the world’s waning ecological hotspot — the Western Ghats.
The dancing name is courtesy the males, who employ unusual kicks to attract mates. This is a unique breeding behaviour called foot-flagging.
The males stretch, extend and whip their legs out to the side to draw the attention of females. Such displays come in handy because there is a possibility of mating croaks being drowned out by the sound of water flowing through perennial hill streams.
The bigger the frog, the more vigorous the dance. “They need to perform and prove, ‘Hey, I’m the best man for you,’” said SD Biju, a botanist-turned-herpetologist now celebrated as India’s “Frogman” for discovering dozens of new species in his four-decade career.
Watch: Scientists discover 14 new species of dancing frogs in western ghats
A study listing the new species was published on Thursday in the Ceylon Journal of Science. It brings the number of known Indian dancing frog species to 24.
The tiny amphibians of the genus Micrixalus trace their origin to 85 million years ago. Their habitat is drying because of excessive development and this has biologists worried. Amphibians are highly vulnerable to changes in local ecology.
“We have brought these beautiful frogs into public knowledge. But about 80% of them are outside protected areas and in some places, it is as if nature itself is crying,” Biju, the lead scientist of the Indian amphibian recovery project and a professor at Delhi University, said.
The Western Ghats — a lush mountain range spread across 1,600 km — is a global bio-diversity hotspot with high species richness. Over the last 15 years, 75 new amphibian species have been discovered from the Ghats. Biju and his team are credited with finding 50 of them.