A team of scientists from Delhi University and the Wildlife Institute of India, in collaboration with researchers from Indonesia and the US, have discovered a new species of ‘paddy frog’ from Northeast India, primarily Assam.
The frog belongs to the microhylid genus Micryletta, a “group of narrow-mouthed frogs that is primarily and widely distributed in Southeast Asia, more commonly known as paddy frogs”.
The new species has been named ‘aishani’, derived from the Sanskrit word ‘aishani’ or aisani meaning Northeast. The study by Abhijit Das (Wildlife Institute of India), Sonali Garg and S D Biju (DU), Amir Hamidy (Indonesian Institute of Sciences), and Eric N Smith (University of Texas) was published in PeerJ, a peer-reviewed journal, Tuesday.
Scientists said the new species “strikingly differs from other narrow-mouthed paddy frogs by characteristics such as reddish-brown colouration on back, prominent dark streaks and ash-grey mottling on the lateral sides, shape of the snout, and absence of web on its feet”.
They said DNA analyses suggested that other “undescribed species in this genus” could be in existence in regions such as Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The first known species of this genus was originally described from Sumatra in Indonesia. As of now, there are only four recognised species in this group, and Micryletta aishani becomes the fifth.
They discovered and described the species based on specimens collected from a “degraded forest area in Cachar district of Assam”. However, the study says it is also present in Tripura and Manipur. “The new species is likely to be more widely distributed in Northeast India, particularly the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot region that lies south of River Brahmaputra. Micryletta aishani is currently endemic to Northeast India but it could very well be present in neighbouring regions of Bangladesh and Myanmar,” said Garg.
Researchers said it was “surprising that the new species is not found far from human habitations”. “Our discovery shows that even fairly common frogs usually found closer to human habitations are still not documented properly,” said Das.
Biju said that despite new discoveries, “the actual number of frog species in Northeast India is much higher than the current estimates”.