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Scientists have discovered a new and unusual species of frog in the Western Ghats mountain range in India. The frog has shiny, purple skin, a light blue ring around its eyes, and a pointy pig-nose, National Geographic reports.
The scientists have called the new species Bhupathy's purple frog (Nasikabatrachus bhupathi), in honor of their colleague, Dr. Subramaniam Bhupathy, a respected herpetologist who lost his life in the Western Ghats in 2014.
While the new amphibians may appear odd, each quirk of the purple frog’s anatomy is the result of countless years of evolution. Small eyes, a long snout, and short limbs equipped with hardened ‘spades’—each enables the frog to spend almost its entire life below ground.
In fact, the amphibians don’t even surface to eat. Instead, the Indian purple frogs use a long, fluted tongue to slurp up ants and termites underground, says Elizabeth Prendini, a herpetologist at the American Museum of Natural History and coauthor of a paper describing the species in the newest issue of the journal Alytes.
Bhupathy’s purple frog is closely related to another purple frog (N. sahyadrensis) found in the region in 2003. Together, the two make up the only known members of their family. The find comes as part of an effort sponsored by the Indian government to sample the DNA of every frog and toad species in the nation.
“This frog lineage is very ancient, and has a very low diversity, so this finding is very special and unusual,” says Prendini.