Kozhikode: Resounding the ecological importance of Western Ghats once again, researchers have, after a five-year long journey, discovered seven new species of frogs in the Western Ghats. Two of them were discovered from Sabarimala and Athirappilly and some are smaller than a single human nail.

Led by a Malayalee scientist from Delhi University, Dr. Sathyabhama Das Biju, the study was published recently confirming the discovery of seven frogs belonging to the ancient variety of night frogs or Nyctibatrachus.

"The ones discovered at the Western Ghats are as small as 12.2-15.4 mm. The smallest varieties in the world are 7 mm", said Dr. Biju.

The new variety discovered at Sabarimala has been named Nyctibatrachus Sabarimalai and the one from Athirapalli has been named Nyctibatrachus Athirapilliyensis. The Nyctibatrachus Pulivijayani found from Agasthyamala has been found to be just 13.6mm. Sonali Garg, who was a part of the team led by Dr. Biju said that the frogs live under foliage and in damp areas and sound like grasshoppers, probably the reason they escaped the explorer's eyes so far. Forest Department Range Officer Sandeep Sukesan was also part of the study.

Dr. Biju also said that the discovery makes the total number of night frogs discovered in the Western Ghats 35. The night frogs have an evolutionary history of 8 crore years and dates back to the Gondwana days. Their relatives can apparently be found a little further down south, in Sri Lanka.

The researchers also shared that 32% of all the frogs found here are under the threat of extinction. Of the seven found, five are severely threatened. The small frogs have very limited and small habitats which also makes them extremely vulnerable. The Athirapilli frog for instance, lives in a small patch just half a kilometer away from the waterfall which will be submerged in the event of a dam coming up in the river, Dr. Biju said.