Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A New Marsupial Frog Discovered in Peru

An article was released this week describing a new species of frog from high-elevation grasslands in the Andes Mountains of Peru. The newly discovered species is a member of the genus Gastrotheca, a group also known as the marsupial frogs.

Picture: Hemiphractus fasciatus by Amphibian Rescue & Conservation Project

New species Gastrotheca dysprosita, Photo credit: W. E. Duellman

The new species Gastrotheca dysprosita is differentiated from others in the genus by its color and skin texture. It also differs in morphological characteristics of the head and feet. 

The frog comes from a family (Hemiphractidae) with an unusual means of reproduction. In these species, eggs develop into froglets on their mother’s back. Most species also undergo direct development, which means that miniature adults emerge from the eggs instead of tadpoles. This has resulted in a variety of fitting common names, such as backpack frogs and carrying frogs.

Hemiphractus fasciatus
Photo credit: 
E. J. Griffith
Gastrotheca cornuta
Photo credit:
 D. B. Fenolio

Frogs in the genus Gastrotheca are called marsupial frogs because the females carry their eggs and offspring in a pouch located on their backs. They may be carried for several months, but eventually, the offspring are released as tadpoles or fully developed froglets.

Gastrotheca marsupiata, Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The strategy of carrying young is also employed by members of several other frog families. In the pouched frog (Assa darlintoni) from the family Myobatrachidae (as documented by the BBC),  males carry hatched tadpoles in two lateral pouches until they are fully developed. The family also includes two species of now-extinct gastric-brooding frogs, in which females carried offspring in their stomachs. Scientists in Australia are now trying to bring the species back from extinction.

Female Surinam toads, in the family Pipidae, also carry their eggs on their backs. However, in these species, the eggs are carried in individual pockets that form around each egg. The eggs hatch in a few days, but the young continue to grow and develop under their mother’s skin for another three to five months.  

To read the article describing the new species Gastrotheca dysprosita click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment