Indian frogs kick up their heels

Some new species impress a potential mate with a dance

HIGH KICK  Some male frogs warn off rivals by stretching out their hind legs and spreading their toes, as shown here by Micrixalus kottigeharensis. Now, a team of researchers has found at least four more frog species that defend their territory with a dance.

S.D. Biju et al/Ceylon Journal of Science (Bio. Sci.) 2014  

Some frogs use a little fancy footwork to get attention during mating season. A 12-year search of a 1,600-kilometer-long mountain range on India’s west coast has turned up 14 new frog species, including at least four “dancing frogs,” Indian researchers report May 8 in the Ceylon Journal of Science (Biological Sciences). This finding more than doubles the number of species in the genus Micrixalus, a group of frogs known for their dance moves. The amphibian boogie starts off with Micrixalus males calling to females, showing off their bright white throats. Then males tap their feet and finish off by stretching out a hind leg and whipping it around behind them. Called foot-flagging, this pretty maneuver isn’t just for show. Should a rival male intrude on the display, he may get kicked. 

GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS Like a dance, mating is a series of steps for Micrixalus. The male starts by announcing his presence with a call (1) and then lifts his legs (2) and kicks any male rivals that crowd his space. When a female (shown in gray) approaches, he climbs on her back and hangs on until the eggs are laid and buried in the stream bed. S.D. Biju et al/Ceylon Journal of Science (Bio. Sci.) 2014

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