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Super Tiny Toad Found In India Calls For New Genus

Feb 03, 2016 02:19 PM EST
Blythophryne beryet
A new toad species, Blythophryne beryet, was recently found in India's evergreen forests.
(Photo : Dr. Ramesh K. Aggarwal)

A new toad species discovered in India is just small enough for its own species and the creation of an entirely new genus, researchers say. The new "Andaman bush toad" - as its proposed common name is - measures only 24 millimeters in length. This toad, researchers say, is significantly smaller than most of its relatives.

For its size, the species was given the name Blythophryne beryet, which translates to "small frog" in Andamanese. Additional unique morphological and skeletal characters, along with a molecular phylogenetic analysis are detailed in a recent study, led by researchers from the Wildlife Institute of India and the Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species.

"We believe that the Great Andamanese knew of the existence of this small arboreal anuran," researchers explained in their study. "We hope the nomen (name) we coin here will also raise awareness about the dwindling, indigenous tribal populations in the Andamans, their culture and extinction of their tribal languages."

Blythophryne beryet toads can be found throughout evergreen forests in five of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, India. These tiny amphibians are generally active at night, resting on the leaf surface of herb bushes. During daytime, however, they seek shelter under leaf litter on the forest floor. The species is reddish-brown in color and characterized by two faint dark brown inverted V-shaped markings.

Because of its severely fragmented population - restricted to no more than 10 locations - the toads are considered "endangered" based on International Union for Conservation of Nature standards. Additional threats include human activity and invasive fauna, suggesting conservation measures need to be taken to preserve this indigenous animal.

Their study was recently published in the journal ZooKeys

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