DU researcher discovers new species of frogs, names it after former VC
A group of Delhi University (DU) researchers has named a new species of frogs from the Western Ghats after former DU vice-chancellor Deepak Pental to honour his work as a renowned plant genetist. Pental also helped establish the Systematics Labs at DU which conducts research on Indian amphibians.
The species was discovered during a decade-long comprehensive study on a large group of Minervaryan frogs and has been named Minervarya pentali.
Professor SD Biju, head of the department of environmental studies at DU, and a postdoctoral researcher at DU Sonali Garg discovered the new species of frog which belongs to the family Dicroglossidae. They discovered the frog from the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot that extends along the southwest coast of the Indian Peninsula, the researchers said.
“It is a great privilege to name a frog species after professor Deepak Pental, the former vice-chancellor of University of Delhi, in appreciation of his tremendous support and encouragement for setting-up of the Systematics Lab at University of Delhi — where research leading to the discovery and description of nearly one-fourth of all known Indian amphibians has been carried out,” said professor Biju, who led the study.
Lead researcher Garg said, “We discovered it from wayside vegetation int multiple localities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, while surveying amphibians during the monsoon season. This species is also among the smallest known Minervaryan frogs, which is probably one of the reasons it was overlooked until now.”
Researchers said the new species was identified on the basis of multiple criteria including “external morphology, DNA and calling pattern.” Biju said that the study has also resolved the identity and taxonomic status of all known members of the genus from Peninsular India and clarified the geographical ranges of species providing numerous new distribution records based on morphologically and genetically identified samples from a vast region.
“The findings are published in a scientific article titled ‘DNA Barcoding and Systematic Review of Minervaryan Frogs (Dicroglossidae: Minervarya) of Peninsular India: Resolution of a taxonomic conundrum with a description of a new species’ in the international journal Asian Herpetological Research,” Biju said.
The study was funded by DU, government of India’s department of science and technology (DoST) and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Critical Ecosystem partnership Fund from US, and Global Wildlife Conservation at US.