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Found: A Frog Living in India’s Wastelands

The frogs live in a barren area of the country surrounded by trash.

M. laterite (Photo: K. S. Seshadri et al/PLOS ONE/CC BY 2.0)

M. laterite, a newly discovered species of frog, lives in a place that humans don’t much care for. The western coast of India, near the south, is covered with laterite, a dry and reddish rock that’s often used to make bricks. Few trees live here, and these areas are considered “wastelands.” People often take that literally and dump garbage in these barren places.

A laterite area (Photo: Vaikoovery/CC BY 3.0)

A few years back, a scientists started searching for life in these areas. The project, called “My laterite: My habitat,” searched for amphibians living in these “human-dominated landscapes.” This where they found M. laterite. It was less than three-quarters of an inch in size and an entirely new species.

Described in PLOS ONE, the frog is not a beauty. It’s pale brown, with black markings, and when it sings, it sounds like a cricket. These frogs live in temporary ponds, in marshy areas, and sometimes in paddy fields. Living in a wasteland/garbage dump, they are classified as an endangered species.

The frogs are named after the barren habitat in which they were found: the scientists hoped “to change peoples’ perception about laterite areas,” they said in a press release.

Bonus finds: Secret bat guano

Every day, we highlight one newly found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com.