Three new species of little horned frogs discovered in North-East India

The findings, published on April 28, 2020, in the Journal of Natural History, is the result of fourteen years of research and seven years of fieldwork.
The Naga Hills Horned Frog.(Systematics Lab, Delhi University)
The Naga Hills Horned Frog.(Systematics Lab, Delhi University)
Updated on May 03, 2020 01:06 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Guwahati | By Utpal Parashar | Edited by Sparshita Saxena

A team of Indian and Irish biologists from Delhi University, University College Dublin and the Natural History Museum (UK) have discovered three new species of horned frogs from the jungles of North-East India.

The findings, published on April 28, 2020, in the Journal of Natural History, is the result of fourteen years of research and seven years of fieldwork.

“This study is a testament to how little is known about the most threatened animal group, frogs, in northeastern India,” Stephen Mahony, the lead author of the paper, said in a statement.

“Our work has completely changed what we thought we knew about these secretive animals, from how to identify the different species and how they are related to each other, to where they live and how vulnerable they may be to deforestation,” he added.

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The scientists named two of the new species using words adapted from local tribal languages at their sites of discovery.

The Naga Hills Horned Frog (Megophrys awuh­­), where the word “awuh” means “frog” in the Pochury language, the primary native tribe from the Melluri district of Nagaland.

The Tamenglong Horned Frog (Systematics Lab, Delhi University)
The Tamenglong Horned Frog (Systematics Lab, Delhi University)

The Tamenglong Horned Frog (Megophrys numhbumaeng), where the name is derived from ‘nwmbwmaeng’ meaning “forest spirit” from the Rongmei (Ruangmei) language, the primary native tribe from the Tamenglong district of Manipur state.

The third new species, the Dzükou Valley Horned Frog (Megophrys dzukou), was named after the only place where this potentially endangered new species was found. The location lies on the border of Nagaland and Manipur.

The Dzükou Valley Horned Frog (Systematics Lab, Delhi University)
The Dzükou Valley Horned Frog (Systematics Lab, Delhi University)

The discovery was made when the biologists were investigating a group of small species of horned frogs from the North-East. Horned frogs are so named for their fleshy, horn-like, projection on the upper eyelids of some species.

“North-East India is part of globally recognised biodiversity hotspots. Yet, the amphibian fauna of this region has been overlooked for far too long. Many such surprises are still waiting to be uncovered with respect to the incredible frog diversity of the North-East,” SD Biju, Professor at Delhi University said. With the new discoveries, 11 new species of horned frog have been named from North-East India following research by the same core team published in 2011, 2013, and 2018 (which included the 11 cm Giant Himalayan Horned Frog).

“I grew up personally witnessing the rapid changes in North-East landscapes and jungles disappearing with shocking speed. Frogs are very vital for healthy ecosystems but incredibly many Nagas still consider them as tasty snacks.” Rachunliu G Kamei, one of the authors involved in the research, said.

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Friday, October 29, 2021