Reptile and amphibian specialists at the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, Germany, discovered it in 2010 in the Serrania de Tabasara mountains of western Panama, a highly understudied part of the Panamanian central mountain range, the institute reported Tuesday.
"When we finally caught the first individuals by hand, we noticed that it dyes ones fingers yellow when it is handled," researcher Andreas Hertz said. "The scientific name (Diasporas citrinobapheus) of this new frog refers to this characteristic and means yellow dyer rainfrog."
The new frog, less than three-quarters of an inch long, belongs to group of frogs that lack a tadpole stage but develop directly as little frogs inside the egg, researchers said.
Considering the possibility that the yellow stain produced by the frogs may be poisonous, the scientists performed an analysis of the skin secretions.
"We cannot say whether the dye is any good as a predatory defense, as we could not find any poisonous components," Hertz said.
"Maybe the color is just easily washed out and has no particular function. However, for now, this peculiarity of the new species remains enigmatic."