Do you know the story of Thumbelina?
Once upon a time, there lived a pretty little girl,
Who was smaller than any girl you have ever seen!
Her mother said, “Look she is no bigger than my thumb!
I shall call her Thumbelina”
Well, a new species of bush-frog, named Raorchestes primarrumpfi, smaller than Thumbelina got discovered recently by Indian researchers. And to be clear, we are not talking about a baby tadpole that turned into a baby frog. This particular bush-frog is a full grown adult. Researcher S.P. Vijayakumar and his team found it in the Western Ghats, close to Bangalore, India.
The Western Ghats is a mountain range, 1600 kilometers long, known to be home to over 50 species of frogs. And new species are getting discovered there every year.
Have you thought about why it is important for us to keep discovering new species? Is it because we like to find new things and just click pictures? Is there a bigger reason? We asked that question to a few kids around us. One of them, a fifth grader, knew the answer. She said, “It is important to learn about new species – that way we can better understand and protect the habitats they live in. Which means we don’t accidentally destroy the burrow they live in, the cave, the lake or the forest.”
The Western Ghats is known for its long range of hills, plateaus and valleys and it is very hard for bush frogs to be able to cover the entire range on their foot. Therefore, most bush-frogs grow up and evolve generation after generation only in their local habitat. That habitat could be just a few kilometers long hill range.
Together with the thumbnail sized frog, S.P. Vijayakumar and his co-researchers discovered 8 other species of bush-frog. Their discovery got published in the journal Zootaxa. Some of these discovered frogs are bright in color and some are plain slimy. Take a look:
[ Journal reference: “Lineage delimitation and description of nine new species of bush frogs from the Western Ghats Escarpment”, published in Zootaxa ISSN 1175-5334 (online edition) ]