by on April 10th, 2011

Using molecular, morphological and life history data, we have identified a lineage of frogs from Sri Lanka, which we have identified as a new genus.
We have given this the genus name Taruga (meaning “tree-climber” in early-Sinhala and Sanskrit. Prof. (Emeritus) Punchi Banda Meegaskumbura helped in finding a name.
Taruga is endemic to Sri Lanka, and we have assigned T. fastigo as the type species for this genus. There are two more species currently in this genus (T. eques and T. longinasus), and we are working on describing a yet one more species for this group.
This paper required a lot of work, and involved a lot of molecular work, analyzing adult and tadpole morphology, CT scanning and osteology.
Most of the molecular analysis for this work was done as a part of my Ph.D. thesis work. Working on the morphlogy took a fair bit of time, but the actual paper was written in quite a short time.
Our first Sri Lankan graduate student, Gayan Bowatte, also contributed to this work, and hence it is a special paper for us. All the other co-authors of this work are well known.
As we have outlined in 2004 (Bossuyt et al., in Science), Sri Lanka contain clade level endemicity despite many land-bridge connections with India. This is yet another such deeply divergent clade.
The Department of Wildlife Conservation and Forest Department gave us permission to work on these frogs. We thank them profusely for that. A lot of other people contributed with important tissue samples from other regions of the world, without which this study would not have been possible.
If you are interested, you can download the original paper from our list of publications.
For a popular version of the article, read the Sunday Times News Report by Malaka Rodrigo.

Two new species discovered

by on January 20th, 2011

Two species of new frogs of Pseudophiluautus were described in January 2011. One of these, P. schneideri was found from Sinharaja World Heritage site. It is often found in disturbed areas and forest gaps. The other frog, P. hankeni, was found from the highest peaks of the Knuckles mountain range. Because of the very restricted distribution of this species, this will eventually be categorized as a critically endangered species.

Crocidura hikmiya, an endemic shrew from Sinharaja World Heritage Site

by on August 8th, 2007

A new endemic species of shrew, Crocidura hikmiya (Sinharaja Shrew) was recently described by us using molecular and morphological data, from the Sinharaja and Rakwana mountains of Sri Lanka. Its closest sister species is the Sri Lankan Long-tailed Shrew, another Sri Lankan crocidurine shrew that is restricted to the high-elevation habitats of the Central Highlands. C. hikmiya has a shorter tail than the Sri Lankan Long-tailed Shrew; most of the other characteristics that distinguish the two species are osteological in nature. Suyama led this research, with Madhava, Kelum, Rohan and Chris contributing.