A group of scientists from India and US have discovered a new tadpole that burrows through sand in the Western Ghats. It belongs to the Indian Dancing Frog family, Micrixalidae. Though the existence of the frogs has been known for the past 125 years, it’s the first time that scientists have been able to spot its tadpoles.
According to Prof SD Biju, who is heading the group of scientists, these tadpoles were not noticed for several years because of their fossorial nature, that is, they can dig and live underground, which is a rare quality among frogs.
These tadpoles, which were discovered in the deep recesses of stream beds, live in complete darkness until they mature to become full-grown frogs.
The dancing frogs are known for waving their legs in sexual and territorial display, but tadpoles from this family had remained a mystery for decades.
Micrixalidae tadpoles have ribs and this provides them greater muscle attachment to help them wriggle through sand. These tadpoles do not have teeth, but they have well-serrated jaw sheaths, which help them avoid large sand grains while feeding. These tadpoles inhabit sandy banks under canopy-covered streams.
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The finding is the latest in a string of discoveries of new frog species in India, especially the Western Ghats. Last month, a team of researchers had discovered a new species of frog, named the ‘Laterite narrow-mouthed frog’ in Manipal and Mangaluru regions of Karnataka, which is only 1.6 cm (0.63 inch) long.