NEW DELHI – Years of combing tropical mountain forests, shining flashlights under rocks and listening for croaks in the night have paid off for a team of Indian scientists that has discovered 12 new frog species plus three others thought to have been extinct.
It’s a find the team hopes will bring attention to India’s amphibians and their role in gauging the health of the environment.
“Frogs are extremely important indicators not just of climate change, but also pollutants in the environment,” said the project’s lead scientist, biologist Sathyabhama Das Biju of the University of Delhi.
Night frogs are extremely hard to find, coming out only at dark and during the monsoon season, living either in fast-flowing streams or on moist forest ground.
Biju said he and his student researchers had to sit in dark, damp forests listening for frog sounds and shining flashlights under rocks and across riverbeds.
The 12 new species include the meowing night frog and the Wayanad night frog, which grows to about the size of a baseball. The discoveries – published in the latest issue of Zootaxa – bring the known number of frogs in India to 336.