A unique "catcall" inspired the name of the meowing night frog (pictured), one of 12 new species of frogs found recently in western India, a new study says.
The 1.4-inch (3.5-centimeter) frog Nyctibatrachus poocha—"poocha" meaning "domestic cat" in the local Indian language—has a "secretive lifestyle," hiding out inside rock crevices in the states of Western Ghats-Kerala and Tamil Nadu, said Biju Das, a biologist at the University of Delhi.
Between 1994 and 2010, Das and colleagues scoured forests along Indian's western coast for nocturnal, stream-dwelling frogs in the poorly studied genus Nyctibatrachus. In addition to revealing the 12 new species, the team rediscovered 3 species thought extinct, according to the study, published September 15 in the journalZootaxa.
The newfound species Jog's night frog has an "extremely unique" parenting style, at least for frogs: Both mom and dad watch over their eggs until they hatch (pictured, a male on guard).
Named for their habitat of Jog Falls, the frogs live along fast-flowing streams. When courting a female, the male will sit on a leaf or a branch above the stream and make an "advertisement call," Das said.
When a female approaches, he'll grasp her with his front legs for about 20 minutes. When he dismounts, the female lays eggs, which the male promptly fertilizes and then covers with his body. (Related: "Weed Killer Makes Male Frogs Lay Eggs.")
Das has observed co-parenting in just six night-frog species, though he suspects it exists across the Nyctibatrachus genus.
Photograph courtesy Biju Das
Gavi Night Frog
Das and colleagues found the loud-singing Gavi night frog (pictured) in a cardamom plantation in India's Kerala state. It's named after Gavi, a village in the middle of the plantation.
Several of the 12 newly discovered species are very rare, existing only in small pockets of protected forests, Das noted.
Others, like the Gavi night frog, live outside reserves and need conservation attention, he said. (Read about vanishing amphibians in National Geographic magazine.)
Photograph courtesy Biju Das
With males measuring up to 3 inches (7.7 centimeters), the robust-bodied Wayanad night frog (pictured) is the now biggest of the Nyctibatrachus genus.
Unlike their brethren, which abandon their eggs when threatened, Wayanad frogs will stay and fight aggressors.
For example, "when the [egg] site was approached too closely by the investigator, the guarding animals … instantly inflated or raised the body, and did not hesitate to bite a twig or a finger," according to the study.
Rediscovered after 90 years, the Coorg night frog was originally described in 1920 by CR Narayana Rao, "the pioneer of Indian amphibian research," Das said. The species was discovered in Coorg—now Kodagu—an area in India's Karnataka state.
Das and colleagues found just one male frog in Mercara, a town near Kodagu.