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New Species – Poison Frog Inhabits a “Lost World” in Guyana Rainforest

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Researchers working in a little-studied rainforest have uncovered a minute Poison Frog that seems restricted to a tiny range within a very unique habitat.  Labeled a “micro-endemic”, the newly-described frog may be threatened by plans to encourage ecotourism in the area.  Its species name, “assimibilis”, means “that may disappear”.  The region in which it lives, northern South America’s Guyana Shield, is home to 148 amphibian and 176 reptile species…and herpetologists believe that many more await discovery

Allobates femoralis

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Alessandro Catenazzi

A Biodiversity Hotspot

The term “lost world” was first applied to the Guyana Shield (please see photo) in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic 1912 book of the same name, and biologists find it equally appropriate today.  Home to 25% of the world’s undisturbed tropical rainforests, the area supports a mind-boggling array of unique animals and plants.

Included among herps described so far are 11 caecilians, 4 crocodilians, 4 amphisbaenians (worm lizards, please see photo), 97 snakes and 56 lizards.  Many of the 137 resident frogs are endemic (found nowhere else), as are approximately 15% of the reptiles.  Some are known from only 1-5 specimens, and it is assumed that many have yet to be seen by herpetologists. Read More »

Leopard Frog Shocker – a New Species is Discovered in New York City

Northern Leopard FrogsHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  As a native of NYC, I’m no stranger to the natural wonders to be found there.  In my time, I’ve filled quite a few notebooks with pleasant surprises…coyotes in Manhattan, Pine Voles in the Bronx, Red Salamanders on Staten Island, 1,000+ insect species, 13 herps, 250+ birds, red and gray fox on the grounds of the Bronx Zoo, and many more.  New species have been discovered as well, but most have been small and secretive, such as the undescribed centipede recently found living in Central Park.  But the existence of a sizable, gaudy frog that calls loudly each spring, living undetected within city limits, took the herpetological community very much by surprise.

Sharp Ears Lead to a New Species

Northern Leopard Frogs, Rana (Lithobates) pipiens, have been recorded in NYC, but are rarely encountered today.  The area also forms the northernmost limit of the range of the Southern Leopard Frog, R. pipiens; never common, it may now be locally extinct.

It was during a search for Leopard Frogs in the NYC borough of Staten Island that a Rutgers’ University doctoral student noticed that the frog calls he was hearing were unique… similar to, yet different from, those of both Northern and Southern Frogs.  Hybrids, perhaps? Read More »

World’s Smallest Frogs Added to 2011’s List of Newly-Discovered Amphibians

Eleutherodactylus iberia
Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Two frog species recently discovered in southeastern New Guinea are smaller than any other 4-legged vertebrate.  Within their pea-sized bodies, they pack a brain, lungs, heart, digestive system and most of the other organs that people have…simply astounding!

Tiny Frogs and Fish

The frogs, Paedophryne dekot and P. verrucosa, were collected several years ago, but were only described as new species this year (please see ZooKeys article).  Among all the world’s vertebrates, only a single fish, a Southeast Asian relative of the carp (see amazing photo here) is smaller – and the new frogs exceed it in size by only 0.1 mm!  Another contender for the title, a leaf-litter frog from Cuba (please see photo of striped frog), is only a tiny bit larger. Read More »

Frog News – Land-Dwelling Tadpole Lives in Trees and Feeds on Wood

Indirana semipalmataHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Frogs are well-known for their amazing survival strategies.  From behemoths that swallow entire clutches of cobras (please see article below) to tadpoles that develop within their parents’ vocal sacs, frog facts are truly stranger than fiction.  Recently, it was discovered that the tadpoles of India’s Brown Leaping Frog, Indirana semipalmata, are unique in both habitat choice and diet (please see photos of this frog and its tadpole).

A Unique Tadpole Habitat

Biologists at the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station inKarnataka,Indiawere amazed to discover several clutches of Brown Leaping Frog eggs adhering to tree bark. While other frogs are known to lay eggs on land, in such cases the tadpoles are carried by rain or their parents to water to complete their development; Smoky Jungle Frog and certain other tadpoles develop within a moisture-retaining nest. Read More »

A Frog First – the Fang-Bearing Tadpoles of the Vampire Flying Frog

Rhacophorus malabaricusHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  The year 2011 has barely begun, but it is already supplying amphibian enthusiasts with exciting news items.  One of the most surprising is the discovery that the tadpoles of the newly-described Vampire Flying Frog, Rhacophorus vampyrus, sport hard, sharp fangs…a previously unknown amphibian adaptation.

A Surprise in the Treetops

Biologists from Australia, Vietnam and the USA (North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences) uncovered the new frog and its odd tadpoles while surveying montane forest canopies on the Langbian Plateau in southern Vietnam.  Their findings, published in the journal Zootaxa (please see article below), have left herpetologists wondering just why tadpoles might need such odd mouthparts…certainly not to puncture veins, as their common name suggests! Read More »

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