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New species of tiny frog discovered in India

22/02/17Environment

Four new frog species that are so small they can sit on a thumbnail have been identified in the forests of India.

Among the smallest frogs in the world, they live on the forest floor and make insect-like calls at night.

Scientists discovered the new species after several years of exploration in the forests of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Sonali Garg of the University of Delhi said: “These tiny frogs can sit comfortably on a coin or a thumbnail.

“We were surprised to find that the miniature forms are in fact locally abundant and fairly common.

“They were probably overlooked by researchers because of their extremely small size, secretive habitats and insect-like calls.”

The night frog group, Nyctibatrachus, previously had 28 recognised species, of which three were miniature in size – less than 18mm.

The new species were identified through studying their DNA, physical features and call patterns.

Most of the new frogs live outside protected habitats or close to areas of human habitation.

Dr Laurence Jarvis, head of conservation at the UK charity Froglife, said the finding was globally significant.

He added: “This highly biodiverse region contains many unique amphibian species and the area is under increasing threats from human disturbance.

“The discovery of these new species will increase our understanding of the conservation priorities for amphibians in the region.”

The research is published in PeerJ.