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Tuesday, August 4

Netravali Leaping Frog, a new frog species endemic to Western Ghats discovered from Goa

Netravali Leaping Frog, Indirana salelkari
Netravali Leaping Frog (Indirana salelkari) [Image Courtesy: Vivek Kale]

Goa may be known for its beautiful beaches, but now it is home to a rare frog species yet unknown to the scientific world. A group of researchers have described a new species of leaping frog - now called Netravali Leaping Frog (Indirana salelkari) from Netravali (Neturlim) in Sanguem Taluk of South Goa district. The new discovery adds one more member to the Ranixalidae family of frogs which are endemic to Western Ghats.

According to a paper published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa about the discovery, Indirana salelkari is distinct from its close relatives with its unique placement and structure of the vomerine teeth – teeth found on the upper edge of the frog’s jaw and choanae - openings in the roof of the skull that form one end of the nasal passages - a feature of terrestrial vertebrates. To establish the unique identity of the newly discovered species, the researchers have conducted detailed molecular analysis comparing it with the closest relatives.

The researchers happened to spot this species from Tanshikar Spice Farm at Netravali and from the surrounding laterite hills during their filed trip to exploring the amphibian diversity of the Goan region of the Western Ghats.

Netravali Leaping Frog, apparently, becomes the first frog from the region to be named after a forest official. As per the practice, researchers describing a new species either names it in honour of somebody or based on local names or based on the place name. The Netravali Leaping Frog, according to the researchers who described it, is named after Prakash Salelkar, Range Forest Officer at Netravali for his contribution to the conservation of wildlife in the state.

As per the researchers, the new discovery points to the need for more comprehensive attempts to explore the amphibian diversity of the region. “Given that the taxonomy and distribution of several of these species is still ambiguous and there is also possibility of discovering cryptic species within the genus, further explorations and molecular studies are essential to reveal conservation status of this taxon.”, says the study.

Nikhil Modak and Anand D. Padhye of Department of Biodiversity, MES Abasahab Garware College, Pune, Neelesh Dahanukar of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune and Ninad Gosavi of Department of Zoology, Willingdon College, Sangli, Maharashtra together published the paper.

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