From Wildlife Extra:
Two new species of moss frog found in South-East Asia
Dr Jodi Rowley, a herpetology expert at the Australian Museum, was part of a team that discovered two new species of South-East Asian moss frogs. Here she writes of the excitement at finding them – and of their significance…
December 2011: South-East Asian amphibians are both poorly known and highly threatened. That’s the biggest reason that my colleagues and I spend weeks searching the montane forests of the region, discovering and documenting the amazing diversity of the amphibians found there. It’s a vital first step towards amphibian conservation.
Our most recent discoveries are two small moss frogs. Moss frogs get their name because of their bumpy skin and the way they are camouflaged as greenish moss or brownish tree bark (there’s also one that looks like bird poo!). Such camouflage is handy when you live in mossy trees in the forest and are likely very tasty to an array of forest predators such as snakes and birds.
The new species are small, less than 3cm long, have effective camouflage and spend most of their time up trees, making them pretty tricky to spot in the forest at night, which is probably one of the reasons they have remained undiscovered until now. That and the fact that reaching their habitat often involves a rather arduous, near-vertical trek up a mountain.
The misty moss frog is named after its mist-shrouded habitat on the Kon Tum Plateau, in Vietnam. Although located in the tropics, its habitat is so cold at night that we found it impossible to sleep (not that amphibian biologists sleep at night, anyway).
The cloaked moss frog is named after its ability to change from a dull, mottled brown to a bold, high-contrast pattern. Quite a magic trick – uncloaking, if you will.
Both new species are likely to occur in relatively small areas of high-elevation forest on the Kon Tum plateau (misty moss frog) and Langbian plateau (cloaked moss frog) and are vulnerable to threats such as habitat loss and over-collection (moss frogs are popular in the international pet-trade).
Both regions contain high amphibian diversity and many unique amphibians that occur nowhere else – truly special areas that thankfully contain a number of important protected areas.
See also here.
The scientific description of the two new species is here.
Molecular phylogeny of treefrogs in the Rhacophorus dugritei species complex (Anura: Rhacophoridae), with descriptions of two new species: here.
How’s this for a sweet surprise: Two new species of frog—each smaller than an M&M—have been discovered in Papua New Guinea, a new study says: here.