by Madhava Meegaskumbura 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.