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Frog that hopped with dinosaurs found

By Kate Tobin
CNN

The purple, small-headed creature with tiny eyes belongs to a new family of frogs.
The purple, small-headed creature with tiny eyes is believed to belong to a new family of frogs.

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The Western Ghats Mountains of India, where the frog was found, is known for being home to unusual species found nowhere else. The mountains are one of eight biodiversity hotspots on Earth.
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Western Ghats Mountains
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(CNN) -- It's bright purple, bloated and scientists say it's been around since the dinosaurs.

The 3-inch long, short-limbed creature with a pointed snout and a body that looks like a jelly donut was discovered by Indian and Belgian scientists in the Western Ghats Mountains of Southern India and identified as a rare frog.

Genetic analysis indicates it is like no other frog alive today, and scientists have placed it in a new frog "family."

Its closest relative is found in the Seychelles Archipelago, near Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. India and The Seychelles were once part of the same land mass, but separated 65 million years ago.

"I have no idea how many are left in the world," said Franky Bossuyt with the Free University of Brussels, in Belgium. "It will be important to find that out in the near future."

Scientists said they are particularly excited to find these so-called "living fossils," as it gives them an opportunity to study a real animal in place of partially preserved fossil remains.

Each of the 4,800 known species of frogs are grouped into 29 families. The last family was discovered in 1926.

This new discovery should help scientists better understand how amphibians developed and evolved through time, and how biological populations responded to shifting land masses over time.

The new frog family is described in the October 16 edition of the journal "Nature."


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