A team of scientists has discovered a new species of the so-called glassfrogs lurking in the Neotropics of the Amazonian Ecuador. Glassfrogs are known for their transparent skin covering their bellies, leaving their organs visible underneath. However, the newly discovered species takes the unique appearance of glassfrogs to the extreme.
The new frog species, described in a paper published in the journal Zookeys, has a transparent skin that does not only cover its belly, but also extends to its chest. Due to this, its heart is fully exposed in its underside.
Dubbed as Hyalinobatrachium yaku, the new frog species can be distinguished by the relatively large green spots at the back of its head and the foremost part of its body. Aside from the extended transparent skin in its underside, the new species also has a characteristically long call.
The team, led by Dr. Juan M. Guayasamin of Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, has identified the new species in three different localities. Interestingly, there are some behavioral differences between the three localities. The researchers observed that two of the populations, one found in the riverine vegetation of an intact forest in Kallana and the other in an area covered by secondary forests in the Ecuadorian village of Ahuano, have males calling from the underside of leaves, just a few meters above a slow-flowing, relatively narrow and shallow stream.
Water, specifically slow-moving streams, are essential for the reproduction of the new species. This is the reason why they were called “yaku,” which means water in the local language Kichwa.
Due to this, the researchers were surprised when they saw the new species at the third locality perched on leaves of small shrubs, ferns and grass some 30 to 150 centimeters above the ground and is about more than 30 meters away from the nearest stream.
According to a press release, the Hyalinobatrachium yaku is only about 2 centimeterals. Despite being newly discovered, Hyalinobatrachium yaku already faces major challenges for its survival, including oil extraction in the region and the related water pollution, road development, habitat degradation and isolation.