Purple Frog


Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis

BEST SEEN AT: The Sahyadri range in Tamil Nadu and Kerala
STATUS: Endangered
GOOD TO KNOW: It lives under the soil for over 11 months!

Photo: SD Biju

FOR SUCH a tiny creature, the pointynosed purple frog created quite a stir when it was discovered in 2003 by Franky Bossuyt and Dr SD Biju, India’s ‘frogman’. It was the first new family of amphibians to be found since 1926. The BBC had an apt, if not very flattering, description of the new find – “its head appears too small for its body and it looks more like a squat, grumpy blob than a living creature.” The find is especially significant from the evolutionary point of view since the purple frog is the sole representative of an ancient lineage of frogs that has been evolving independently for over 130 million years. Its closest relative lives in the Seychelles, suggesting that the common ancestor of the animals lived 130 million years ago, when the planet’s landmasses were joined together into a giant supercontinent called Gondwana. The purple frog lives more than 11 months in a year under the soil, which is why it may have escaped notice all these years. It emerges only in the monsoon with the sole purpose of mating and breeding. The main threat to this rare frog is destruction of habitat and primarily plantations.



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