The purple frog used to be considered the only surviving member of an ancient amphibian family called the Nasikabatrachidae, but in 2006 this family was incorporated into the Sooglossidae. Up until around 120 million years ago in the early Cretaceous period, India was joined to the eastern part of the ancient southern supercontinent Gondwana, which subsequently split apart into Australia, Antarctica, India, Madagascar and the Seychelles over millenia of movement of the earth’s plates. The closest relatives of the purple frog are four tiny frog species found in the Seychelles in the Sooglossidae family. In their phylogenetic study of the purple frog in 2003, S. D. Biju and Franky Bossuyt (respectively of the Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute, Kerala and the Free University of Brussels) reported that the origin of the Sooglossidae/Nasikabatrachidae lineage occurred around 182 million years ago. It is thought that these two amphibian lineages diverged an estimated 134 million years ago form a common ancestor that inhabited Gondwana prior to the break up of this land mass. These frogs were therefore sharing the earth with the dinosaurs for 70 million years and started to evolve independently before the common ancestor of the elephant and the human.
The ancestors of the Seychelles frogs and the purple frog were present on the Indo-Madagascan land mass as it broke away from Gondwana and drifted through the movement of the earth’s plates for over 50 million years. Around 65 million years ago the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary, the Seychelles split away from India and the ensuring plate movements separated the purple frogs from their closest relatives by around 2,500 km of Indian Ocean. The purple frog is therefore the only representative of a lineage that has been evolving independently for over 130 million years, has survived the break up of a continent and the extinction of the dinosaurs.
This project aims to discover more about the ecology of this elusive and recently described frog.
Biju is a systematic biologist working on amphibians
Karthik is the coordinator and field scientist of a project which aims to find out more about the elisive purple frog.
Ashish Thomas is working on one of the most bizarre and fascinating frog – Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis.
GWild will wear ONLY 12 outfits in 12 months for 12 threatened animals to fundraise for their conservation.
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