In the swampy jungles of New Guinea back in 2016, frog expert Stephen Richards learnt wetlands, evaded crocodiles, and batted away mosquitos, all while listening and looking for frogs. During his sweep of the boggy surface, he was rewarded for his efforts, handling to discover and bag a couple of tree frogs.
Richards brought the amphibians back to his group in native Australia for analysis. He understood that they weren’t any old tree frogs. At initially glimpse they look similar to the typical Australian green tree frog. But this types of frog is the color of cocoa, making it the label of “chocolate frog.” Sometimes green tree frogs can be brown, so the concern was whether this frog specimen was certainly something new. Through substantial DNA analysis, researchers concluded that yes, they had actually discovered a formerly unknown types. Their findings were released in the Australian Journal of Zoology.
This chocolate-colored frog, called Litoria mira, is a close relative to the Australian green tree frog. Study co-author Paul Oliver from the Queensland Museum informed CNN that these 2 frog types most likely started to diverge throughout the Pliocene, about 5.3 to 2.6 million years earlier, prior to New Guinea and Australia’s land masses separated, and now they are genetically unique.
[Related: How did ancient frogs move between America and Australia? Easy: They hopped across Antarctica.]
“We named the new frog Litoria mira because the word Mira means surprised or strange in Latin,” Oliver informed Sci-News. “What’s a little surprising about this discovery is that the well-known and common green tree frog of Australia has a long-overlooked relative living in the lowland rainforests of New Guinea,” he stated.
Since the Torres Strait flooded in and apart Australia from New Guinea, the 2 lands have actually ended up being greatly various. Australia is now mainly a savannah, while New Guinea stays a damp rain forest. Animals in each land have actually hence adjusted to extremely various environments.
For the typical individual, finding a new types would appear like a huge accomplishment. But for Richards, this is a familiar experience. The researcher formerly led an exploration into New Guinea where his group discovered 200 new types of animals and pests in simply 2 months. He associates a few of his success to the truth that these swamplands are quite unattainable—and unwelcoming for human beings. ”Because the frog lives in extremely hot, swampy locations with great deals of crocodiles, all these things dissuade expedition,” Richards informed CNN.