Amphibian debuts

Hunt for lost frog turns up new species in Colombian rain forests

Finally some good news on the frog and toad front: Scientists on an amphibian expedition in Colombia’s cloud and rain forests discovered three new species, including a tiny beaked toad. The diminutive toad, a mere 2 centimeters or smaller in length, is a member of the genus Rhinella, making it a close relative of the giant cane toad (which can grow to a whopping 28 cm). The dull coloration of the newly identified beaked toad probably camouflages it on the forest floor, where it also lays its eggs. Oddly, the beaked toad seems to skip the tadpole stage, hatching directly into toadlets, report scientists from Conservation International, the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group, Global Wildlife Conservation, and Fundación ProAves.

A new species of rocket frog, a kind of poison dart frog belonging to the genus Silverstoneia, also was described for the first time. As was a toad so unfamiliar that researchers can report only that it has bright red eyes and lives high in the Chocó montane rain forest.

PUT YOUR BEAKS UP Scientists discovered a new beaked toad (genus Rhinella), while on an amphibian expedition in Colombia. The toad’s coloration camouflages it on the leaves of the forest floor, where it lays eggs that hatch directly into toadlets, no tadpole stage required. Conservation International

The discoveries are a nice surprise, as amphibian news has been bleak of late: Frogs and toad populations are declining worldwide as they succumb to nasty fungal infections, pollution and other threats. Still, the original purpose of the expedition was to find the Mesopotamia beaked toad, a creature not seen in such a long time that scientists worry none are left. That beaked toad has yet to be seen.

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