Tiny new frog species found in India

Some of the smallest known frogs were recently discovered following a five-year survey in India. Seven new species of “night frogs,” in the Nyctibatrachus genus, include four species that are among the tiniest frogs ever found, capable of comfortably crouching on a thumbnail with room to spare.

Though the frogs were abundant in the survey area, their minuscule size and chirping calls — which resemble the sounds of insects — enabled them to remain undetected until now, scientists wrote in a new study.

Their discovery raises the total number of known night frog species to 35, with seven species recognized as miniaturized — smaller than 0.7 inches. [So Tiny! Miniature Frog Species Are Among World’s Smallest (Photos)]

The smallest of the newly described frogs — Nyctibatrachus manalari, N. pulivijayani, N. robinmoorei and N. sabarimalai — measure between 0.5 and 0.6 inches.

N. webilla and N. athirappillyensis are slightly larger than their cousins at approximately 0.7 inches and 0.8 inches respectively, while the largest of the new finds, N. radcliffei, measured 1.5 inches.

Night frogs are native to the Western Ghats mountain range, one of the world’s richest biodiversity hotspots and a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. The region runs parallel to India’s western coast, covering an area measuring approximately 54,054 square miles.

It is home to hundreds of species of animals and plants that are recognized as globally threatened, with 145 species listed as endangered and 51 as critically endangered, UNESCO reported in a site description.

Over the past decade, scientists have described 103 new species from the Western Ghats, including the unusual Indian purple frog, which is found nowhere else on Earth and is the only living frog in an evolutionary lineage dating back to the Jurassic.

Critically endangered species and beloved animals at risk
What the future holds for night frogs — and for many of their fellow amphibians — is uncertain, as more than 32 percent of the Western Ghats frogs are threatened with extinction, according to the study co-author, SD Biju, a biologist and head of the Systematics Lab with the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of Delhi, India.

“Out of the seven new species, five are facing considerable anthropogenic threats and require immediate conservation prioritization,” Biju said.

The new findings emphasize that biodiversity in the Western Ghats is dramatically underestimated — even in well-studied groups like night frogs — and highlight the urgency of implementing conservation measures to protect threatened wildlife, and to preserve the habitats of as-yet undiscovered species, the study authors wrote.

The findings were published online Feb. 21 in the open access journal PeerJ.

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Why did this ancient worm have huge jaws

In 1994, Canadian scientist Derek Armstrong helicoptered into a remote corner of northern Ontario to collect fossils. The specimens he gathered that day, which sat in storage at the Royal Ontario Museum for more than two decades, have just helped scientists identify a new species of ancient marine worm.

“This is an excellent example of the importance of looking in remote and unexplored areas,” said David Rudkin, assistant curator at the Royal Ontario Museum, and “scrutinizing museum collections for overlooked gems.”

In these 400-million-year-old rocks, researchers from the Royal Ontario Museum, the University of Bristol, and Sweden’s Lund University found jaws from the class Polychaeta, the marine relatives of earthworms.

Most Polychaeta worms have tiny jaws, ranging in size between 0.1 millimeters (the width of a human hair) and 2 millimeters (the thickness of a nickel).

These measured almost half an inch.

Based on this startling size difference, and other structural features of the jaw, the scientists concluded that they had found a new species, which they dubbed Websterprion armstrongi, which they calculated must have measured more than 3 feet long. They wrote up their findings in a report published in Nature.

Their finding indicates that “polychaete gigantism was already a phenomenon in the Palaeozoic, some 400 million years ago,” they wrote.

The researchers likened W. armstrongi to some living members of the family Eunicidae, which can grow 10 to 20 feet in length though only 1 inch wide.

If armstrongi was anything like these modern cousins, it would have been a monster to most of its contemporaries, 385 and 397 million years ago.

The modern Eunice aphroditois, which hides under seafloor sands before bursting up and snapping up fish with its five spring-loaded jaws, “appears like a frightening apparition from a science fiction movie,” wrote researchers in 1996, who said they saw it attack a filefish more than a foot long. “When the filefish ventured too close to the worm, it emerged slightly from its burrow and seized the fish in its jaws with lightning speed.”

Their ancient ancestors may have shared both the modern worms’ large size and surprise hunting strategy, which would have given them an undeniable evolutionary edge. “Gigantism in animals is an alluring and ecologically important trait, usually associated with advantages and competitive dominance,” explained the study’s lead author, Lund University Professor Mats Eriksson.

He thinks this finding could deepen our understanding of how gigantism arose in the ancient aquatic environment of what is today Ontario. “It is … a poorly understood phenomenon among marine worms and has never before been demonstrated in a fossil species.”

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Channel: The Last News
Published: 2017-02-23 16:49:59
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Scientists Discover 4 new species of tiny frogs in India

Researchers from India have found seven new types of frogs, as indicated by a news discharge Tuesday from PeerJ, a companion assessed organic and therapeutic sciences diary.

The majority of the newfound frogs all have a place with the family Nyctibatrachus, researchers said. Frogs of this sort are generally known as night frogs as a result of their dull hues and living spaces.

The creatures of land and water were found throughout five years by University of Delhi researchers who went on broad endeavors through India’s Western Ghats district, a land and water proficient and worldwide biodiversity problem area.

Four of the seven new frog species are viewed as smaller than normal frogs, and they are among the littlest known frogs on the planet.

The minor frogs are as little as 12 mm (not as much as a large portion of an inch), and they become no greater than 16 mm, as per scientists. They can sit serenely on a coin or a fingernail.

Researchers said they were astonished that the little types of frogs were locally bounteous and genuinely normal, as indicated by Sonali Garg, a University of Delhi understudy who took an interest in the undertakings as a component of her Ph.D. inquire about.

The little frogs species were likely disregarded by scientists “in light of their to a great degree little size, hidden living spaces and creepy crawly like calls,” Garg said.

Sadly, the fates of huge numbers of the newfound frog species might be somber, as per researchers.

A considerable lot of the frogs live outside ensured ranges and on human-modified properties, scientists said. Those frogs confront dangers, for example, living space aggravation, change and discontinuity.

“More than 32 percent – that is 33% of the Western Ghats frogs – are as of now undermined with elimination,” said SD Biju, a University of Delhi teacher who drove the review.

Biju has formally portrayed more than 80 new types of creatures of land and water from India through the span of his vocation.

“Out of the seven new species, five are confronting impressive anthropogenic dangers and require quick preservation prioritization”, Biju said.

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Published: 2017-02-23 03:47:52
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These Newly Discovered Frogs Can Fit on Your Fingertip | National Geographic

Seven new species of “night frogs” have been discovered in the Western Ghats in India, the only place in the world you’ll find these creatures. Four of the new species are so tiny they can fit on your fingernail. Finding them was tricky, due to their size and habitat, living in thick vegetation. Nearly a third of amphibian species are threatened with extinction and scientists are hoping more can be done to protect their habitat, much of which is disturbed by human activities.
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Read more about these night frogs, the challenges in finding them, and the threats they face.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/02/frogs-new-species-india-small/

These Newly Discovered Frogs Can Fit on Your Fingertip | National Geographic
https://youtu.be/WphTFdA5U_I

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Channel: National Geographic
Published: 2017-02-21 21:38:32
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TRAPPIST-1 System Has 7 Earth-Sized Exoplanets, 3 In Habitable Zone | Video

An dwarf star named TRAPPIST-1, which is located about 39 light-years from Earth, harbors more planets than previously observed. Climate models suggest that the three closest to the star would likely be too hot for liquid water to exist “on any more than a small fraction of their surfaces,” according to the European Southern Observatory. The furthest planet is too cold for water but temperatures may be just right on the other three planets. Full Story: https://goo.gl/HUujrk

Credit: ESO

Channel: VideoFromSpace
Published: 2017-02-22 18:06:07
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In Atmospheric River Storms, Wind Is a Risk, Too

Atmospheric river storms are hailed as drought-busters when they bring needed rain and snow, but they have a well-known dark side: damaging floods. A new NASA study documents a second destructive force in these storms: high winds.

The study shows that atmospheric rivers were associated with almost half of the most extreme mid-latitude windstorms globally for the past 20 years, doing billions of dollars in damage.

An atmospheric river is a long, narrow stream of water vapor carried by wind that can cause storms. Satellite observations show that this weather pattern occurs all over the world, even around Antarctica. Atmospheric river storms are common in wintertime along the U.S. West Coast, where rain and snow are often needed. For that reason, Americans tend to think of them mainly in terms of precipitation.

“Our study highlights the risks of extreme and hazardous winds that can occur with atmospheric river storms, in addition to the more well-known risks from heavy precipitation,” said Duane Waliser of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. Waliser is lead author of the new study published Feb. 20 in Nature Geoscience.

Waliser and Bin Guan, of JPL’s and UCLA’s Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering, used global weather analysis records and NASA satellite precipitation data for their study. They examined what fraction of global storms that feature extreme wind and precipitation – over both land and sea – occurred in conjunction with atmospheric rivers.

Over mid-latitude oceans, where high winds can be a threat to shipping, this weather pattern is associated with up to half of the most extreme wind and precipitation occurrences.

Similarly, the researchers studied the correlation between atmospheric rivers and extreme precipitation, also looking at the top 2 percent of precipitation-producing storms. They found that, as with windstorms, atmospheric rivers are associated with up to half of these extreme precipitation events across the same mid-latitude regions.

Atmospheric rivers that make landfall have a greater potential for destruction. The researchers examined the most destructive windstorms of the last 20 years – the top 2 percent in terms of wind speeds near Earth’s surface. They found that atmospheric rivers were associated with up to half of these storms along the world’s mid-latitude coastlines. Often, the highest wind speed ever recorded on a coastline was associated with an atmospheric river storm.

To get an idea of the potential economic consequences of these storms, Waliser and Guan consulted a database of the 19 most expensive European windstorms, in terms of insurance losses, between 1997 and 2013. They found that atmospheric rivers were associated with 14 (about 75 percent) of these events. Together, these 14 storms accounted for more than $25 billion in insured losses.

The extent of these correlations came as something of surprise to the researchers. Since atmospheric rivers are, by definition, extreme cases of winds transporting moisture, “We expected that there would be an association,” Guan said, “but the degree of the connection exceeded our expectation.”

NASA collects data from space, air, land and sea to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

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Channel: The Last News
Published: 2017-02-23 13:49:12
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