New 'flying' frog discovered in Vietnam

Jan. 15, 2013 at 8:06 PM

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- An Australian biologist has described the discovery of a large green "flying" frog in Vietnam that uses its big webbed feet to glide through forests.

Writing in the Journal of Herpetology, Jodi Rowley, an amphibian biologist at the Australian Museum in Sydney, told how she and other researchers "came across a huge green frog, sitting on a log," not far from the capital, Ho Chi Minh City.

She later determined the 3.5-inch creature is a relatively large new type of flying frog, a group known for its ability to "parachute" from tree to tree thanks to special aerodynamic adaptations such as webbed feet, National Geographic News reported Monday.

The new species is "one of the most flying frogs of the flying frogs," she said, "in that it's got huge hands and feet that are webbed all the way to the toe pad."

"At first it may seem strange that such a fantastic and obvious frog could escape discovery until now -- less than 100 kilometers [60 miles] from an urban center with over nine million people."

Yet because they spend most of their time high up in the forest canopy they can easily escape notice.

Rowley has named the new species Helen's flying frog to honor her mother "who has steadfastly supported her only child trekking through the forests of Southeast Asia in search of frogs."

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