New frogs found. And they dance.
Fourteen new species of dancing frogs have been found in the jungle mountains of southern India.
The tiny amphibians earned their name with the unusual kicks they use to attract mates. One problem, though. The species declined in number during the 12 years in which Indian scientists studied them. The frogs breed after the yearly monsoon in fast-rushing streams. But their habitat appears to be becoming increasingly dry.
The frogs are found exclusively in the Western Ghats, a lush mountain range that stretches 1,600 kilometers (990 miles) from the western state of Maharashtra down to the country's southern tip.
When the males dance, it's actually a unique breeding behavior called foot-flagging. The frogs stretch, extend and whip their legs out to the side to draw the attention of females. The females might have trouble hearing mating croaks over the sound of water flowing through streams.
The bigger the frog, the more they dance. They also use those leg extensions to smack away other males, which is important considering the ratio for the amphibians is usually around 100 males to one female.
These are tiny, delicate frogs no bigger than a walnut.
The Western Ghats, older than the Himalayas, is among the world's most biologically exciting regions. It holds at least a quarter of all Indian species. Yet in recent decades, the region has faced a constant assault by mining, water pollution, unregulated farming and loss of habitat to human settlements.
Critical thinking challenge: Why must frogs dance instead of croaking to get attention?