New frog species found in Arunachal named after Chanakya
Cascade frog Amolops Chanakya Credit: Bikramjit Sinha

Guwahati: A new frog species found in Arunachal Pradesh has been named after Chanakya of Maurya Empire.

Researchers from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and St. Anthony’s College, Shillong have discovered three new species of Cascade frogs from Arunachal Pradesh. One has been named after Tawang, the other one has been named Sessa Orchid Sanctuary and the third one after Chanakya of Maurya Empire.

The findings were published in the recent edition of the research journal, Records of the Zoological Survey of India.

Scientifically all three new species belong to the True Frog family Ranidae, and these cascade-dwelling frogs are classified under the genus Amolops.

These new species are named as Amolops chanakya, Amolops tawang and Amolops terraorchis and these three species were collected earlier from three different locations in Arunachal Pradesh between 2018 and 2019.

Amolops Tawang. Pic Credit – Bikramjit Sinha

The team that made these discoveries include Bhaskar Saikia and Dr. Bikramjit Sinha of ZSI, Shillong; Dr. K. P. Dinesh and Shabnam Ansari of ZSI, Pune; and Dr. M. A. Laskar of St. Anthony’s College, Shillong.

Wherein, Amolops chanakya was collected from Dirang, Amolops tawang was collected from Tawang, and Amolops terraorchis was collected from Sessa Orchid Sanctuary.

Amolops Terraorchis. Pic Credit – Bikramjit Sinha

“The naming of these new species tells an interesting story. While Amolops tawang is named simply based on the district in which this species was discovered, the name Amolops terraorchis literally refers to the one from ‘the land of orchids’ (terra = land, orchis =orchid, in Latin language), suggesting its discovery from Sessa Orchid Sanctuary, which is the first such protected landscape in the world dedicated to the conservation of orchid diversity,” a scientist from the team that made the discovery told EastMojo.

Scientists have also suggested the ‘Sessa cascade frog’ as a common English name for the species.

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“In science, naming a species after a person is usually considered as paying homage to his/her contribution to society. Hence, the name chosen to name the third species, Amolops chanakya, is the most interesting. Chanakya (Kautilya/Vishnugupta) was a 4th-century BCE scholar of India who was instrumental in the establishment of the Maurya Empire and the overthrow of the Nanda Empire of Pataliputra (now Patna). Known for his great military tactics and administrative skills, Chanakya is also famous for his Sanskrit treatise, Arthashastra which still has relevance in economic policies, statecraft, and military strategy. It is indeed apt that a species is named after this great Indian polymath,” another scientist from the team said.

The frog was found after dusk hours from a small stream in Chakpa village in Dirang administrative circle of West Kameng district. Scientists have suggested Chanakya’s cascade frog as the common English name and Chanakya jharna medak as a common Hindi name for the species.

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ZSI is mandated to survey and inventorise the faunal diversity of India and as such, the findings of these new species are also a part of their regular research work.

Although the species of Amolops are morphologically cryptic, wherein the identification of species by morphology and colour alone is difficult, in the present study, DNA barcoding tools are used to justify the new species designations. 

“Adding to this, for the first time phylogenetic tree for the species of Amolops from India has been provided including the molecular data from the neighbouring country species,” the researchers said.

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