New frog species named after DU ex-VC | Delhi News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: A tiny new species of frog from the Western Ghats has been named after a former vice-chancellor of Delhi University. Professor SD Biju, popularly known as Frogman of India, and Dr Sonali Garg, who had discovered a new species of frog recently, have named it Minervarya pentali as a tribute to professor Deepak Pental for his support and encouragement for setting up of the Systematics Lab at DU and for funding researches during his tenure.
According to Biju, the new species was discovered from the globally recognised Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot that extends along the southwest coast of the Indian Peninsula. The discovery was made during a comprehensive study on a considerably large, common, yet a confusing group of Indian frogs — genus Minervarya (common name: Minervaryan frogs), carried out over a period of nearly ten years.
The new species was identified based on multiple criteria, such as external morphology, DNA and calling pattern. The study has resolved the identity and taxonomic status of all known members of the genus from Peninsular India, in addition to clarifying the geographical ranges of species and providing numerous new distribution records based on morphologically and genetically identified samples from a vast region. The findings are published in a scientific article titled ‘DNA Barcoding and Systematic Review of Minervaryan Frogs (Dicroglossidae: Minervarya) of Peninsular India: Resolution of a taxonomic conundrum with description of a new species’ in the international journal Asian Herpetological Research.
“It is a privilege to name a frog species after Professor Deepak Pental, the former VC of DU, in appreciation of his tremendous support and encouragement for setting up of the Systematics Lab at University of Delhi — where research leading to the discovery and description of nearly one-fourth of all known Indian amphibians has been carried out,” said Biju.
Speaking to TOI, Pental said that “unfortunately research and development, which is the backbone of prosperity and progress of society, has taken a beating in India in recent times with just 0.7% of GDP going into R&D. What SD Biju has done is real research discovering amphibians which many thought have ceased to exist. The discoveries not only express his zeal towards environmental research, but he also has an eye for it.”
On the discovery, co-author Sonali Garg said: “We discovered it from wayside vegetation at multiple localities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu while surveying amphibians during the monsoon season. This species is also among the smallest known Minervaryan frogs, which is probably one of the reasons it was overlooked until now.”
This study and the authors were funded by University of Delhi; Department of Science and Technology, Government of India; Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India; Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, USA; and Global Wildlife Conservation, USA.

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