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Purple Frog  to be designated state amphibian of Kerala

Date: 08 May 2019 Tags: Biodiversity

Leading Herpetologists have floated proposal to designate endangered Purple frog as Kerala’s state amphibian. This coveted designation will go long way in protecting this frog species and its fragile habitat (Over 50% of which lies outside the protected areas).  This proposal will soon come up on agenda of committee of State Wildlife Advisory Board meets later.

Purple Frog 

  • It is also known as Purple Frog, Maveli frog or Pignose Frog. It belongs to frog species of family Sooglossidae. Its scientific name is Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis.
  • It lives almost its entire life in underground tunnels, comes out to the surface for a single day in a year to breed. Once it lays its eggs, it returns to the earth’s deepest layers.
  • Taxonomical Characteristics: Its body is robust and bloated. It is relatively rounded compared to other flattened frogs. Compared to other frogs, it has small head and unusual pointed protruding snout and powerful hind legs. Its adults are typically dark purplish-grey in color.
  • Distribution: It is endemic to Western Ghats and cannot be found anywhere else. It  is widely distributed in the biodiverse region of Western Ghats. Earlier it was thought to be restricted to south of Palghat Gap in Western Ghats.
  • Breading Cycle: The male and female frogs of this species mate underground and once in year and they come out on surface to lay thousands of eggs near seasonal streams in the months of May-June.
  • The tadpoles that emerge out of these eggs look identical to sucker fish and are found clinging onto rocks and boulders alongside these seasonal, fast-flowing streams where they feed on algae.
  • These tadpoles are known to spend up to 120 days in open before they metamorphose into frogs and make their journey into subterranean soil where they will live almost permanently.
  • Threats: Loss of its habitat due to rampant construction of unauthorised check dams, submerging of perennial breeding grounds of this frog species. Additionally, road networks also lie close to their breeding grounds, killing them while crossing.
  • Conservation Status: It listed as endangered on red data list of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • Historical Significance: Herpetologists believe that this frog species is ‘living fossil’ as it’s evolutionary roots suggest it could have shared space with dinosaurs going back almost 70 million years ago.  Besides, its closest relatives were found in Seychelles. This discovery shows that this species could indeed be living proof of Theory of Gondwanaland.