24 July, 2021

The Frog Purana

Biologist S.D. Biju is an unlikely poster boy for Indian science

Sanjay Rawat
The Frog Purana

Sathyabhama Das Biju is an unearther of the earth’s forgotten stories. He sniffs out links between the genetic codes from the beginnings of life and the present to give us a picture of the cosmic cycle of evolution, extinction and maybe even rebirth. When, two years ago, he dug up an earthworm-like legless amphibian of the chikilid family in the deep forests of Meghalaya, he was holding in his hands one of the few living species that shared the earth with the dinosaurs. That discovery, published last fortnight in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London after strenuous scientific scrutiny and recognised protocols, has proven that India’s forests are a treasure trove of evolutionary secrets.

In 2003, Biju and his team had given science another wonderful story of survival from the Jurassic age. The purple frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis), which he discovered in the Western Ghats near Idukki in Kerala, also shared space with dinosaurs and survived through four mass extinctions. Amphibians were the...

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