New species, who dis? The purple pig frog is adorable
Fantastic beasts and where to find them — actually
Should the glow of Eclipse Mania be wearing off and you need a new physical science fix just as fascinating, prepare to aim your eyeballs (assuming you didn't pull a Joey Bada$$ and break them on Monday) at one of our newest additions to amphibian taxonomy: the Purple Pig Frog.
No need to wonder how it got its name. The purple pig frog has satiny, purple skin, rocks a pointy pig-like snout, and is a frog. Is it cute? It has a light blue ring around its eyes - uh, ya, it was born with eyeliner, dear reader. Cute is in its DNA.
If you're a stickler for formality, this plum croaker's scientific name is Nasikabatrachus bhupathi, or Bhupathy's Purple Frog. The handle was bestowed by colleagues of the late Dr. Subramaniam Bhupathy, a well-liked herpetologist who lost his life in a legitimately ghastly bamboo impaling accident in 2014. The incident makes a strong case for favouring lab work over field research.
If Bhupathy's signature species looks a bit like a mole in a wetsuit (and it does), that's because it spends most of its little life underground in the terra firma of the Western Ghats mountain range in India, happily eating as many termites and ants as it can slurp up with its long, fluted tongue. Once underground, it doesn't come up for air or food. Experts point out that a stumpy body and spade-like limbs evolved to give the species an edge as a burrower.
That evolution is, scientifically speaking, nerd catnip. The only other known relative to Bhupathy's Purple Frog was found in the region nearly 15 years ago. Elizabeth Prendini, a herpetologist at The American Museum of Natural History says its evolutionary arc is real rarity. "Both species of purple frog have been evolving independently from other frog species for a very long time." Prendini added,"this frog lineage is very ancient, and has a very low diversity, so this finding is very special and unusual."
If the scarcity of this underground oddity doesn't blow your hair back and you're still not enamoured, consider that the purple pig frog only makes love in the rain. Monsoon season is marked by male frogs calling out to potential lovers from beneath the sandy soil of mountain streams. Do remember that the next time you find yourself too lazy for foreplay. Light a candle at least. In fact, one of the only times this new (to you) amphibian ventures up and out of its burrow is to make love under falling rain drops. Yes, the purple pig frog is up all night to get lucky. And in inclement weather no less.
After the love sesh, eggs are laid in streams and hatch within 48 hours. The brood of tadpoles then use their suckerfish mouths to chew/squirm their way up rocks behind waterfalls. There they cliff-hang in the rushing water for four months, chomping algae with itty-bitty teeth. After the waterfall feeding, it's an entirely underground existence. Until the rains of love come, of course. Rinse and repeat.
I'm no man of science but simple logic dictates that because we've only just found these incredi-critters, unicorns and yeti may yet slide over from cryptozoology to regular zoology. Not that we need them, mind you, with rare beasties like the purple pig frog popping out of the ground. And bonus: staring at it won't scorch your retina like crème brûlée. Ours is a wondrous planet.