Species Description: Abraham RK, Pyron RA, Ansil BR, Zachariah Ar, Zachariah An 2013 Two novel genera and one new species of treefrog (Anura: Rhacophoridae) highlight cryptic diversity in the Western Ghats of India. Zootaxa 3640: 177-189.
© 2013 Ansil B. R. (1 of 2)
Mercurana, which could potentially be confused with Beddomixalus, differs from the latter in the following characters: presence of vomerine teeth and lingual papilla (vs. absence); symphysial knob not sharply pointed (vs. sharply pointed); no stripe on the dorsolateral margin (vs. pale distinct stripe on the dorsolateral margin); canthus rostralis indistinct (vs. rounded); toes 3/4th webbed (vs. half/moderately webbed); finger discs large (vs. moderate); subarticular tubercle on finger IV bifid (vs. rounded); oviposited eggs mixed with mud in shallow pit (vs. eggs openly scattered on ground substrates; Abraham et al 2013).
In life, the overall body color of breeding males is rusty-brown speckeled with black dots. There are a few yellow blotches on the dorsum and the axillary underside of the arms is white with yellow blotches. The upper-arms and hands are yellowish. The flanks are white with a yellow groin. The upper lip is whitish, as is the ventral surface, the anterior and posterior boarder and ventral surface of the thighs. Hindlimbs are unmarked. There is no vent fold. The iris is silvery-brown with a yellowish tint. When non-breeding, males have a pale yellowish-brown dorsum with black specks. Females have a pale greenish-yellow dorsum and white ventral surface.
Distribution and Habitat
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
A male and female in amplexus were observed descending to the swamp floor, from the base of a shrub. On reaching the ground, the pair moved into the leaf litter where both individuals slowly changed color, becoming almost inconspicuous on the forest floor. The female was seen digging into the slushy soil and ovipositing into the resulting shallow burrow in the mud, following which she mixed the semiterrestrial eggs with muddy soil. Digging and mixing was aided by employing her well-developed hindlimb webbing. Ensuing oviposition, the pair moved away from the oviposition site (Abraham et al 2013).
The eggs are non-pigmented and early embryonic development occurs in wet mud after pre-monsoon showers. Free-living aquatic tadpoles metamorphose in lowland swamps (Abraham et al 2013).
Trends and Threats
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Mercurana myristicapalustris is a recent addition to the family Rhacophoridae and represents an ancient, independent clade, which is the sister clade to the clade containing the Sri Lankan and Indian-Chinese-Indochinese radiations of bushfrogs (Pseudophilautus + Raorchestes; Abraham et al 2013).
The genus name is derived from ‘Mercury’ as a tribute to the late Freddie Mercury, the iconic lead singer of the British rock band Queen, whose vibrant music inspired the authors, in combination with Rana (Linnaeus, 1758), a suffix commonly used for many frog taxa (Abraham et al 2013).
The specific epithet, a combination of the words ‘Myristica’ for the nutmeg family, and ‘palustris’, which is latin for swampy, emphasizes the Myristica swamp forest habitat of this frog, which is a fragile and threatened habitat type of the Western Ghats (Abraham et al 2013).
Abraham, R. K., Pyron, R. A., Ansil, B. R., Zachariah, A., Zachariah, A. (2013). ''Two novel genera and one new species of treefrog (Anura: Rhacophoridae) highlight cryptic diversity in the Western Ghats of India.'' Zootaxa, 3640(2), 177-199.
Written by Robin Kurian Abraham (robinabrahamf50 AT gmail.com), Independent Researcher, Alumni of Post-graduate Program in Wildlife Biology and Conservation, National Centre for Biological Sciences (TIFR), Bangalore, India
First submitted 2013-05-09
Edited by Ann T. Chang (2013-05-28)
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