They discover two new glass frogs whose hearts beat

Two species of frogs new to science have transparent bellies that reveal their organs.

These incredible amphibians, called glass frogs because of their transparent skin, reveal their hearts, livers, digestive systems and, in females, also their eggs.

The discovery took place in the tropical Andes of Ecuador by a team of American and Ecuadorian scientists.


A treasure of biodiversity

Thousands of plants and animals inhabit the west coast of South America and cannot be found anywhere else in the world, making this area unique for its biodiversity.

Many of these sites are incredibly remote, which is one of the reasons we were able to discover new species.explains Becca Brunner, co-author of the study published in the journal PeerJ.You may walk a few miles up a ridge and find a different community of frogs than where you started“.

frogs, amphibians, mining, biodiversity, extinction,

New Cloud Forest Dwellers

The frogs were discovered near active mining areas in the Andes and have been named the Mashpi glass frog (Mashpi hyalinobatrachium) and the glass frog Names Hyalinobatrachium.

Both animals look very similar, they have transparent bellies that reveal their red hearts, white livers, digestive systems and, in the case of females, green eggs. Its back is anise green dotted with black dots arranged around yellow spots and its size varies between 1.9 and 2.1 centimeters from snout to cloaca.

They live at about the same altitude, in very similar humidity and temperature conditions. DNA analysis of the two new species also confirmed that they were separate species, with a substantial difference in their genetic makeup.

Most individuals were found on the undersides of leaves where the females lay their eggs and where the male and female stay to care for them.

endangered glass frogs

Researchers who described the recently identified species of glass frogs have sounded the alarm about the delicate conservation situation of these amphibians, as they are found near mining deposits in the Andes of Ecuador.

Therefore, they recommended that both species be included in the list of threatened species in accordance with the guidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the organization that maintains the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, a catalog that follows the state of conservation of Animals and Plants.

The problem is not finding new species, the real challenge is having the time and resources to describe them.says biologist Juan M. Guayasamín of the University of San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador.

The frogs live in forested areas that have suffered from agriculture-related deforestation in recent decades. The humidity and temperature conditions that make the Andean cloud forests a true paradise also for farmers. Las ranas depends on the cutaneous respiration to respirar bajo el agua, a process in which the interchange of gases is produced through the skin, in the area of ​​the lungs or the branquias, where they are already very vulnerable to the contamination relacionada con the water.

The few remaining plots are now under pressure from mining activities, which are highly polluting and contested by many local communities.“says Guayasamin.

If a mining company comes in and destroys the few streams where we know these frogs exist, it will likely spell extinction for the species.concludes Becca Brunner, co-author of the study.

Reference: Juan M. Guayasamin et al, Two New Glass Frogs (Centrolenidae: Hyalinobatrachium) from Ecuador, with Commentary on Threatened Biodiversity of the Andes, PeerJ (2022). DOI: 10.7717/peerj.13109


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