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Species of the Week: The Purple Frog

By on July 25, 2011 in Species of the Week, Uncategorized

This frog in not only extraordinary in its appearance but also in the way it lives.  Unlike most frogs the purple frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis) spends most of its time underground burrowing for termites. The only time it comes out of the ground is to breed during the monsoon season. The species has evolved for this underground lifestyle and has strong feet with wart-like structures that are primarily used for digging. This frog burrows down using its feet like spades, throwing the soil over its back. It need fairly loose, damp, well-aerated soil, and it can fully bury itself in 3 to 5 minutes in this habitat.

This extraordinary amphibian has a very unique evolutionary history; it is the sole representative of an ancient lineage of frogs that has been evolving independently for over 130 million years. When the purple frog was discovered in 2003 it was the first new family of amphibians to be discovered since 1926!

Unfortunately the range of the purple frog seems to be relatively small. Its distribution is restricted to two states, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, in the Western Ghats of India, This, in combination with the habitat loss and degradation occurring as a result of coffee, cardamom and ginger plantations, has resulted on this species being threatened with extinction according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
See the first video footage of the Purple Frog!