Jim Henson’s most famous creation, Kermit the Frog has literally come to life in the science world. Experts at the Costa Rican Amphibian Center (Brian Kubicki, Stanley Salazar, and Robert Puschendorf) have found a new type of frog that resembles the moppet in very much detail, especially on the upper part, with its big black eyes and black pupils. They published a study of their findings in Zootaxa, in the February issue of the magazine.
The head researcher – Brian Kubicki, originally from Minnesota, named the newly discovered amphibian after his mother (Janet Diane Kubicki) – Hyalinobatrachium dianae. This is a very small glass frog, only an inch-long; it has a translucent underbelly, with skin so transparent on this part of the body that you can have a very clear view of its organs. Experts are unsure what the purpose of this transparency is but they presume it might provide the little frog with camouflage against its predators. Kubicki also added that the delicacy and semi-transparency of a glass frog “is a good indicator of the general health of the eco-system”. On its back and sides, its skin is bright green, like taken from a cartoon.
One might wonder why this lovely frog has not been discovered before. Experts say that it has been able to remain in hiding not only because it is so small but also because it produces a mating sound that is similar to the one an insect might issue. This metallic whistle is what actually differentiates it from other frogs, prompting the experts to include it in a new category, and adds to its uniqueness. However, the researchers claim that there are other morphological and genetic features that make it different from other species of glass frogs.
The Hyalinobatrachium dianae was found in the Talamanca Mountains, on the Caribbean side, in an area that has not been vastly explored yet and where Kubicki spent a lot of years doing research.
There are currently 149 known species of glass frogs. They were discovered in both South and Central America. 14 are to be found in Costa Rica. The last species of glass frog was discovered there in 1973. The experts who found the Kermit-like frog are on their second discovery this year. They encountered the first specimen of Ecnomiohyla bailarina near Panama in 2014 and wrote a paper on it in March 2015.
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