AboutZoos, Since 2008


New glass­frog species with see-​through skin shows its beat­ing heart

pub­lished 31 May 2017 | mod­i­fied 31 May 2017

In the Neotrop­ics, there is a whole group of so-​called glass­frogs that amaze with their trans­par­ent skin cov­er­ing their bel­lies and show­ing their organs under­neath. A recently dis­cov­ered new species from Ama­zon­ian Ecuador, how­ever, goes a step fur­ther to fully expose its heart thanks to the trans­par­ent skin stretch­ing all over its chest as well as tummy.

The new amphib­ian is described by a team of sci­en­tists led by Dr. Juan M. Guayasamin, Uni­ver­si­dad San Fran­cisco de Quito, Ecuador, in an arti­cle pub­lished on 12 May in the open access jour­nal ZooKeys. Besides the trans­par­ent skin show­ing its heart, it can also be dis­tin­guished by the rel­a­tively large dark green spots at the back of its head and the fore­most part of the body. Addi­tion­ally, the species has a char­ac­ter­is­tic long call.

The new frog is named Hyali­no­ba­tra­chium yaku, where the species name (yaku) trans­lates to ‘water’ in the local lan­guage Kichwa. Water and, more specif­i­cally, slow-​flowing streams are cru­cial for the repro­duc­tion of all known glass­frogs. The repro­duc­tive behav­iour is also quite unusual in this species. Males are often reported to call from the under­side of leaves and look after the egg clutches.

Glassfrog Hyalinobatrachium yakuGlass­frog Hyali­no­ba­tra­chium yaku sp. n. in life. Top row: adult male, MZUTI 5001, holo­type, in dor­sal and ven­tral view. Bot­tom row: adult male, paratype, QCAZ 55628.
Source: Guayasamin JM, Cisneros-​Heredia DF, May­nard RJ, Lynch RL, Cule­bras J, Hamil­ton PS (2017) A mar­velous new glass­frog (Cen­trolenidae, Hyali­no­ba­tra­chium) from Ama­zon­ian Ecuador. ZooKeys 673: 120.

Hav­ing iden­ti­fied indi­vid­u­als of the new species at three local­i­ties, the researchers note some behav­ioural dif­fer­ences between the pop­u­la­tions. Two of them, spot­ted in the river­ine veg­e­ta­tion of an intact for­est in Kallana, have been call­ing from the under­side of leaves a few metres above slow-​flowing, rel­a­tively nar­row and shal­low streams. Another frog of the species has been observed in an area cov­ered by sec­ondary forests in the Ecuado­rian vil­lage of Ahuano. Sim­i­larly, the amphib­ian was found on the under­side of a leaf one metre above a slow-​flowing, nar­row and shal­low stream.

How­ever, at the third local­ity — a dis­turbed sec­ondary for­est in San José de Payamino — the stud­ied frogs have been perch­ing on leaves of small shrubs, ferns, and grasses some 30 to 150 cm above the ground. Sur­pris­ingly, each of them has been at a dis­tance greater than 30 metres from the near­est stream.

Con­ser­va­tion sta­tus
The researchers note that, given the geo­graphic dis­tance of approx­i­mately 110 km between the local­i­ties where the new species has been found, it is likely that the new species has a broader dis­tri­b­u­tion, includ­ing areas in neigh­bour­ing Peru.

The uncer­tainty about its dis­tri­b­u­tional range comes from a num­ber of rea­sons. Firstly, the species’ tiny size of about 2 cm makes it tough to spot from under­neath the leaves. Then, even if spec­i­mens of the species have been pre­vi­ously col­lected, they would be almost impos­si­ble to iden­tify from museum col­lec­tion, as many of the char­ac­ter­is­tic traits, such as the dark green marks, are get­ting lost after preser­va­tion. This is why the con­ser­va­tion sta­tus of the species has been listed as Data Defi­cient, accord­ing to the IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species cri­te­ria.

Nev­er­the­less, the sci­en­tists iden­tify the major threats to the species, includ­ing oil extrac­tion in the region and the related water pol­lu­tion, road devel­op­ment, habi­tat degra­da­tion and isolation.

Glass­frogs pre­sum­ably require con­tin­u­ous tracts of for­est to inter­act with nearby pop­u­la­tions, and roads poten­tially act as bar­ri­ers to dis­per­sal for tran­sient indi­vid­u­als,” explain the authors.

(Source: Pen­soft news release via EurekAlert!, 29.05.2017)

UN Biodiversity decade
WWF Stop Wildlife Crime
Fight for Flight campaign
End Ivory-funded Terrorism
Support Rewilding Europe
NASA State of Flux

Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

about zoos and their mis­sion regard­ing breed­ing endan­gered species, nature con­ser­va­tion, bio­di­ver­sity and edu­ca­tion, which of course relates to the evo­lu­tion of species.
Fol­low me on: