Current News - News Crux - Species In News

A New Species of Frog

Recently, Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) scientists have discovered a new species of frog named Amolops siju from the deep interiors of the Siju cave in Meghalaya.

  • The ZSI team named the new cascade ranid species Amolops siju after the cave from where this discovery was made.
  • The discovery of a new species of frog from a cave is very rare, and the absence of troglobitic or cave-adapted modification in the frog specimens collected from the cave suggests that the Amolops siju species is not a permanent resident of the shelter.
  • The cave is known to harbor over 100 species of animals, mostly invertebrates like cave crickets, beetles, earthworms, among others.
  • The discovery is the second of its kind in India, the first being the discovery of Micrixalus spelunca in 2014 from a cave in Tamil Nadu.
  • The specimens of Amolops siju were collected in January 2020 during a cave expedition by the ZSI team. The team conducted morphological, molecular, and spatial studies to ascertain the specific identity of the frog species and concluded that it was new to science.
  • The genus Amolops, to which this species belongs, is one of the largest groups of ranid frogs with over 70 known species distributed across northeast and north India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, through Indochina, to the Malaya Peninsula.
  • Interestingly, this is the fourth new species of a cascade frog (Amolops) published by the same team recently. Amolops chanakya, Amolops terraorchis, and Amolops tawang were discovered in Arunachal Pradesh.

Troglobitic refers to organisms that have adapted to living exclusively in caves, with highly specialized features and behaviors that are unique to their cave habitat.

‘Amolops adicola’: A New Species of Cascade Frog

  • Researchers have discovered a new species of cascade frog from Arunachal Pradesh and named it after the Adi hills, the abode of Adi tribes living in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Amolops adicola is a predominantly brown colour frog, with a size ranging roughly between 4 cm and 7 cm.
  • Cascade frogs are named so because of their preference for small waterfalls or cascades in flowing hill streams, for which they have developed certain morphological features such as expanded digit tips and extensive foot webbing that makes them adapt to strong water currents.
  • The species draws its nomenclature from Adi tribes, an indigenous group of people from the Himalayan regions of Arunachal Pradesh. The region from where the discovery was made is also referred as Adi hills — adi literally means “hill” or “mountain top”. Historically, this region was also known as Abor hills.

Caterpillar Slug: A new Invasive Species

  • According to a study, Purcell’s hunter slug or caterpillar slug could become an invasive species attacking western and Peninsula India.
  • The slug (Laevicaulis haroldi– first described in 1980) entered India around 2010-2012 accidentally through international trade via Mumbai.
  • It has been listed as an endangered species and reportedly feeds on leaves and barks of mulberry plants.

Vaquita Porpoise: A victim of “Cocaine of the Sea”

  • Recently, the vaquita (Phocoena sinus), the world’s smallest and most endangered whale was in news due to the policy change of Mexico – it has given up on maintaining fishing-free zone to protect vaquita porpoise.
  • It is also known as "the panda of the sea" for the distinctive black circles around its eyes.
  • This species is found only in the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) region.
  • Conservation status of the species is ‘Critically Endangered’ with their numbers fewer than 15. It is the most critically endangered sea mammal on the planet.
  • Due to China’s demand for the swim bladders, also known as ‘maws,’ from a giant Mexican fish called totoaba, fisherman use large gillnets to illegally fish for totoabas and vaquitas have become the victim of its by-catch.
  • The totoaba fish’s swim bladders are called the “cocaine of the sea” for the money they fetch on the Chinese black market.
  • Inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2005, the property of the Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2019 in light of the critical situation of the vaquita.

India’s First Monk Fruit (Siraitia grosvenorii) Cultivation Started in Kullu

  • The first ever monk fruit cultivation exercise in India has been started in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, having suitable agroclimatic conditions. The plant prefers mountainous area with an annual mean temperature of about 16–20 °C and humid conditions.
  • The monk fruit (Siraitia grosvenorii), is known now throughout the world for its intensely sweet taste, and it has been used as a non-caloric natural sweetener.
  • This crop is cultivated only in China.
  • Monk Fruit gets its name from the Buddhist monks who first used it.

Giant Leatherback Turtle

  • The proposed tourism and port development projects in the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands may threaten some of the most important nesting populations of the “Giant Leatherback Turtle.
  • They are largest of the seven species of sea turtles on the planet and also the most long-ranging Leatherbacks are found in all oceans except the Arctic and the Antarctic.
  • Within the Indian Ocean, they nest only in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Conservation Status (IUCN): Vulnerable
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, India: Schedule I (Highest Legal Protection)

‘SitanaDharwarensis’

  • A new species of a fan-throated lizard, Sitanadharwarensis, has been discovered from the barren lands of northern Karnataka’s Bagalkot district. 
  • The species belongs to the genus Sitana and derives its name from the Dharwar craton, a piece of the Earth’s crust formed 3.6-2.5 billion years ago.
Showing 1-7 of 7 items.