Shrouded in darkness, several wrinkly “dwarf”-like creatures emerged. The camouflaged animals lurked along a mountain stream in India and caught the attention of nearby scientists.
Researchers ventured into the mountainous forests of Arunachal Pradesh several times in 2022, according to a study published Oct. 23 in the journal Systematics and Biodiversity. Armed with flashlights, scientists set out at night to survey wildlife.
Researchers found six wrinkly frogs perched near several mountain streams, the study said. Intrigued, the scientists analyzed the frogs and realized they’d discovered a new species: Alcalus fontinalis, or the Indian dwarf mountain frog.
The Indian dwarf mountain frog is considered “medium-sized,” reaching about 1.4 inches in size, the study said. It has a “robust” body, “broad” head and “wrinkled skin.”
Photos show the Indian dwarf mountain frog. It’s a mud brown color, darker on top and lighter underneath. Subtle brown-black lines give it an irregular pattern. One photo shows a frog with hints of green that almost give it the appearance of a camouflage print. The coloring appears to blend in with the frog’s surroundings.
Indian dwarf mountain frogs were found at night on rocks, boulders and leaf litter near mountain streams, the study said. On several occasions, researchers saw between two and four frogs gathered together. In total, they saw about 30 frogs.
Researchers named the new species after the Latin word for “a spring or fountain” because of the frog’s preferred habitat, the study said.
The new species was identified by its size, wrinkled skin, color pattern and other subtle physical features, the study said. DNA analysis found the new species had between about 8% and 25% genetic divergence from other dwarf frogs.
The Indian dwarf mountain frog has been found at several locations within Namdapha National Park and Tiger Reserve, the study said. This park is in Arunachal Pradesh and about 1,400 miles east of New Delhi, near the India-Myanmar border.
Arunachal Pradesh is a disputed region in the Himalayan mountains along the India-China border. Although India controls the region, both India and China claim it. The border between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, a neighboring Indian state, is also disputed.
“The discovery of new amphibian species from Namdapha Tiger Reserve further highlights the need for biodiversity surveys, especially in under-explored areas across the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot,” researchers said.
The research team included Bitupan Boruah, Surya Narayanan, Jason Gerard, Abhijit Das and V. Deepak.