Deep in the Western Ghats mountain range of India, a strange creature lurks. It isn’t big and it’s certainly not pretty, but it caught the eyes of biologists working in the area.
Scientists have just discovered a new species of purple frog, which they have called the Bhupathy's purple frog (Nasikabatrachus bhupathi), after the renowned Indian herpetologists, Dr Bhupathy Subramaniam, who died after slipping down a rocky revenue on a research trip in 2014.
The researchers from the American Museum of Natural History and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in India recently described the new species in a study published in the journal Alytes.
They describe the amphibian as characterized by its smooth grayish skin with purple marbling, its tiny beady eyes, and its rather strange pig-like snout. The study also notes its stumpy, fat forelimbs have a “restricted range of movement.”
The frog is only known to live in just three seasonal streams within the stunning Western Ghats mountains that are found along the western coast of India. It spends most of its time living underground in shallow little burrows, which is probably why it pretty much looks like an amphibious mole.
Just like other frogs, it starts life as squiggling little tadpoles. Unlike the rather shy adults, the tadpoles of this newly described species are found in the lively cascades that flow during monsoon seasons. As National Geographic reports, the tadpoles actually latch onto the rock face behind the waterfall like a suckerfish.
The researchers managed to scout out the frogs thanks to its distinctive mating call. After tracking down a few of the adults and tadpoles, they used a combination of morphological, genetic, and bioacoustics data to confirm that this was indeed a species that had so far avoided description by modern science.
The species is closely related to another species of stubby-snouted purple frog discovered in 2003, known as Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis. Although both belong to the genus Nasikabatrachus, DNA evidence gathered from the Bhupathy's purple frog confirmed that they are indeed different species.
When the first pig-nosed frog was discovered back in 2003, it was described by the media as “one of the strangest looking frogs ever discovered”. Now, it looks like that prestigious title could be under threat from its equally bizarre relative.