NOV 15, 2016 3:18 PM PST

New frog species discovered in Australia


In a swamp approximately 6 miles away from the Newcastle airport in New South Wales, Australia, scientists have discovered a new species of frog that is only slightly bigger than a human fingertip. The researchers have named the new frog species Mahony’s Toadlet (Uperoleia mahonyi) after Michael Mahony, Clulow’s mentor and a professor at the University of Newcastle, in recognition for “his contributions to the study of Australian amphibians,” the authors write in Zootaxa. However, Mahony’s Toadlet is not a toad, researchers say, but a native Australian frog that gets its name from the glands on its back and its rough, bumpy skin, which makes it look like a toad.
The Mahony's toadlet has striking orange patches on its groin that become visible when the frog extends its legs. Photo by Sheena Martin/University of Newcastle.
That’s not the only unique physicality it has. “It’s got this bright orange rust colour in its groin. They remain hidden when it’s sitting in its normal pose so it’s very well camouflaged,” said study lead author Simon Clulow. “But when it jumps you get a bright flash of colour from its groin and that startles the predator.”

The new frog species is secretive and lives a cryptic life, remaining well camouflaged and hidden under grass, leaves or sand. Spotting these frogs in the wild is not easy, explains the study. The tiny amphibians can be found only by following the male’s mating calls, and they have a restricted distribution, occurring in few coastal sand swamps in the Myall Lakes, Port Stephens and Central Coast, the researchers write. Based on the frog’s current known distribution, the Mahony’s Toadlet is probably at the risk of extinction due to threats like coastal development and should be assessed for an Endangered or Critically Endangered status under the IUCN red list, they add.

“The frog is a habitat specialist, living exclusively on a particular type of leached white sand substrate, which could make it more at risk from threats such as habitat loss and sand mining,” Clulow said. “Coastal areas such as those inhabited by this new species are also highly attractive residential development locations. Sadly, this threat, combined with the limited distribution of the frog could result in it being immediately listed as a threatened species.”
 

Nevertheless, finding the new species in the nick of time is a chance of luck on its own. “Nowadays many new discoveries are based primarily on genetics, that is the frogs look similar to other known species but when we analyze them in the lab we find they differ genetically. It’s almost unheard of to pick up a vertebrate in the field and know instantly, based on appearance alone, that it is a new species. The distinctive marble pattern on the frog’s belly, along with other features makes it quite different to any other frog species in this part of the world and led us to believe straight away that we had found a new species – it was an incredible moment,” Clulow, a biologist at the University of Newcastle, said in a statement.

Sources: Mongabay News, Australia Geographic, NEWS AU, Zootaxa


 
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 03, 2021
Technology
Using Snakes to Monitor Nuclear Radiation
AUG 03, 2021
Using Snakes to Monitor Nuclear Radiation
Nuclear disasters can be devastating. When these accidents happen, such as Chernobyl in the Ukraine or Fukushima in Japa ...
AUG 05, 2021
Technology
Top Ways to Make the Most out of Your Ethernet
AUG 05, 2021
Top Ways to Make the Most out of Your Ethernet
Today, the Ethernet connection has emerged as one of the most popular ways to make the most out of an internet connectio ...
SEP 08, 2021
Earth & The Environment
The Invasive Species Coming for your Wine!
SEP 08, 2021
The Invasive Species Coming for your Wine!
Invasive species are a problem throughout the world. Globalization means that we are continuously accidentally introduci ...
SEP 22, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Farming Fish Sustainably
SEP 22, 2021
Farming Fish Sustainably
Fish farming has become a necessary practice as the population grows. It can be controversial among some groups because ...
OCT 04, 2021
Plants & Animals
U.S. Declares Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Several Other Species Extinct
OCT 04, 2021
U.S. Declares Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Several Other Species Extinct
According to a recent announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, also called the & ...
OCT 21, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Over 99%: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change Confirmed, Again
OCT 21, 2021
Over 99%: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change Confirmed, Again
The scientific consensus on human-caused climate change is overwhelming. A recent study published this week in Envi ...
Loading Comments...