Thursday, January 21, 2016

[Herpetology • 2016] Blythophryne beryet • A New Genus and Species of Arboreal Toad (Anura, Bufonidae) with Phytotelmonous Larvae, from the Andaman Islands, India

Andaman Bush Toad |  Blythophryne beryet
 Chandramouli, Vasudevan, Harikrishnan, Dutta, Janani, Sharma, Das & Aggarwal, 2016

A new bufonid amphibian, belonging to a new monotypic genus, is described from the Andaman Islands, in the Bay of Bengal, Republic of India, based on unique external morphological and skeletal characters which are compared with those of known Oriental and other relevant bufonid genera. Blythophryne gen. n. is distinguished from other bufonid genera by its small adult size (mean SVL 24.02 mm), the presence of six presacral vertebrae, an absence of coccygeal expansions, presence of an elongated pair of parotoid glands, expanded discs at digit tips and phytotelmonous tadpoles that lack oral denticles. The taxonomic and phylogenetic position of the new taxon (that we named as Blythophryne beryet gen. et sp. n.) was ascertained by comparing its 12S and 16S partial genes with those of Oriental and other relevant bufonid lineages. Resulting molecular phylogeny supports the erection of a novel monotypic genus for this lineage from the Andaman Islands of India.

Keywords: Amphibian, bufonid, tadpole, rRNA, molecular phylogeny, skeletal characters

Figure 1. Morphological characters of the Blythophryne beryet gen. et sp. n.: a dorso-lateral view b dorsal view c ventral view d ventral view of left palm e ventral view of left foot of the adult female holotype (ZSI_A-12521) in life f adult female holotype in preservation g dorsal view of the male paratype (ZSI_A-12529) in life showing inverted-V shaped markings and the inter-ocular band on the dorsum.


Blythophryne gen. n.

Type species: Blythophryne beryet gen. et sp. n. by monotypy (Fig. 1, Table 4).

Etymology: The generic name is a patronym, coined in appreciation of Edward Blyth (1810–1873), the first curator of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, who initiated herpetological studies in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, through his phenomenal, pioneering paper “Notes on the fauna of the Nicobar islands” (Blyth 1846). Das (1999) remarked, “Blyth is to be credited for the description of a large number of species from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands that are still valid. Blyth (1846) wrote the first account on the vertebrate fauna of these islands, and in 1863, compiled the first check-list”. Further details of Edward Blyth and his contributions to studies on Indian natural history are in Das (2004) and Sridharan (2013). The specific epithet ‘beryet’ (in Great Andamanese language; refers to ‘small frog’. We believe that the Great Andamanese knew of the existence of this small arboreal anuran that is here described as new species to science. We hope the name given here will also raise awareness about the dwindling, indigenous tribal populations in the Andamans, their culture and extinction of their tribal languages.

Vernacular name:Andaman Bush Toad’ is proposed as the common English name for this new species, indicating its arboreal habit and restricted distribution as understood currently.

Figure 5. a A live, uncollected specimen of Blythophryne beryet gen. et sp. n. showing milky white secretion from the parotoid gland b Amplecting pair (live, uncollected) of Blythophryne beryet gen. et sp. n. showing axillary amplexus.

Figure 6. a Eggs and hatchling tadpoles of Blythophryne beryet gen. et sp. n.  b, c endotrophic larvae of Blythophryne beryet gen. et sp. n. showing pale white abdominal yolk d Lateral view of a Stage 43 tadpole of Blythophryne beryet gen. et sp. n. e Oral disc of a Stage 35 larva of Blythophryne beryet gen. et sp. n., showing absence of keratodont and the presence of keratinised jaw sheaths f a metamorph of Blythophryne beryet gen. et sp. n. showing initiation of tail absorption.

Distribution: This species has been documented from five islands of the Andaman archipelago, namely, the South Andaman (Mt. Harriet), Rutland, Little Andaman, Havelock Island in the Ritchie’s Archipelago and North Andaman (Saddle Peak) (Fig. 4).

Figure 4. Map showing distribution of Blythophryne beryet gen. et sp. n. in the Andaman Islands, Bay of Bengal, India. Holotype collected from Mt Harriet (indicated with a red triangle).

S. R. Chandramouli, Karthikeyan Vasudevan, S Harikrishnan, Sushil Kumar Dutta, S Jegath Janani, Richa Sharma, Indraneil Das and Ramesh Aggarwal. 2016. A New Genus and Species of Arboreal Toad with Phytotelmonous Larvae, from the Andaman Islands, India (Lissamphibia, Anura, Bufonidae). ZooKeys. 555: 57-90. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.555.6522