New Treefrog Species Has Strange Claw

Posted: Jan 5 2019, 12:05pm CST | by , in Latest Science News


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New Treefrog Species has Strange Claw
Gustavo Pazmiño, BIOWEB Ecuador

stumbled across a previously unknown species of treefrog in Ecuador.

Researchers have discovered a new species of treefrog in a remote tabletop mountain of Ecuador, which was previously unknown to science. With dark brown skin and bright orange spots, the new species was found during a two-week fieldwork in a largely unexplored region in the eastern Andes.

"To reach the tabletop, we walked two days along a steep terrain,” said Alex Achig, one of the field biologists. “Then, between sweat and exhaustion, we arrived to the tabletop where we found a dwarf forest. The rivers had blackwater and the frogs were sitting along them, on branches of brown shrubs similar in color to the frogs' own. The frogs were difficult to find, because they blended with their background.”

Researchers have named the creature Hyloscirtus hillisi after Dr. David Hillis, an evolutionary biologist and a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Dr. Hillis discovered three frog species in the same genus in the 1980s while conducting several field trips to southern Ecuador. New treefrog’s name is intended to recognize Dr. Hillis’ valuable contributions to the research of Andean amphibians and reptiles’ evolution.

The most unusual thing about the new frog is that it has an extraordinary, claw-like structure at the base of the thumb. Whether Hyloscirtus hillisi frogs have evolved this claw for fighting or defense against predators remains unknown.

Hyloscirtus is a genus of 37 species of treefrogs widely distributed across South America. The new species is closely related to two other species from Andes of southern Ecuador. The southern Andes group is represented by four known species, all of them share an additional digit below the thumb.

“The new species is characterized by dark-brown coloration with contrasting bright orange flecks and by the presence of an enlarged and curved prepollex protruding as a spine.” Authors wrote in journal ZooKeys.

Hyloscirtus hillisi is only known from two sites in Cordillera del Cóndor, suggesting that the species has a small distribution range. The region is affected by large and small-scale mining. Destruction of natural habitat puts new species at risk of extinction.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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