Maharashtra: Cricket Frog discovered in Khandala gets genetic identity

Pune: The mysterious species of frog, the ‘Cricket Frog’, discovered in Khandala in 1919 by Scottish zoologist Thomas Nelson Annandale, has been genetically identified. Genetic studies of this frog has revealed that the frog belongs to the species ‘Minervarya Syhadrensis’.

Due to the large variety of frogs in colour and size, it was difficult for scientists to identify them. Researchers led by Dr R S Pandit, former Head of the Department of Zoology at Savitribai Phule Pune University, Dr Samadhan Phuge, Ajinkya Patil and Dr K P Dinesh of the Zoological Survey of India studied the frogs in the Cricket Frog class in Pune and the North-Western Ghats. The frogs of the ‘Minervarya Syhadrensis’ species belong to the Cricket Frog species. This identified the species that was discovered 100 years ago by the Cricket Frog.

Related research has been published in the international scientific journal Zootaxa. This is the first research paper to be published in Zootaxa since the establishment of the department. For this study, the researchers collected samples of the ‘Minervarya Syhadrensis’ frog from all over the Western Ghats and found that this frog exists in the Western Ghats in different colours. Previously, the frogs could not be identified as genetic samples were not available. This left no room for speculation about their evolution. The frog ‘Minervarya Syhadrensis’ is likely to exist in the entire Indian subcontinent. This research reaffirms the importance of using genetic information to study frog species. This study was started in 2017.

Frogs mate with other species of ‘Agricola’ frogs to give birth to hybrid baby frogs. But, such hybrid baby frogs cannot survive. These frogs make a croaking noise which is why they are called as cricket frogs.

Research has claimed that this species of frog is a mysterious species of pre-existing species based on size, sound and genetic tests. Cryptic species are mysterious species. This is an important piece of research focusing on the problem of genetic mutations with DNA barcode data. This research will be useful for other categories of animal researchers. Also, this study will inspire young researchers.

– Professor R S Pandit, former Head of Department, Department of Zoology

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