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Scientists discover new frog species in Peru

The new species of frog has already been deemed vulnerable, as a fungal disease lurks in its preferred habitat.

By
Brooks Hays
A Telmatobius ventriflavum specimen. Photo courtesy Pensoft/ZooKeys
A Telmatobius ventriflavum specimen. Photo courtesy Pensoft/ZooKeys

HUAYTARá, Peru, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Scientists thought they had exhausted their search for new life among the coastal valleys of central Peru, a region comparatively poor in biodiversity. But a team of researchers led by Alessandro Catenazzi, of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, were recently rewarded for their persistence with the discovery of a new species of water frog.

Discovered on the Pacific slopes of Peru's Andes Mountains, the bright yellow frog is proof that surprises are often hiding in even the most studied habitats.

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"The discovery of a new species in such arid and easily accessible environments shows that much remains to be done to document amphibian diversity in the Andes." Catenazzi said in a press release.

The small water frog (Telmatobius ventriflavum) is named for its brightly colored stomach -- a combination of the word "venter," Latin for belly, and "flavus," which means yellow. The species is a member of the subfamily Telmatobius, a group of water frogs endemic to the Andes.

Many relatives of T. ventriflavum are under significant threat from pollution and habitat loss. The entire subfamily of frogs has been wiped out from Peru's neighbor Ecuador.

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The new species of frog is vulnerable too, scientists say. Researchers detected chytrid fungus during their survey of the frog's habitat. The disease has been known to wipe out localized frog populations.

The frog's discovery was detailed in the open access journal ZooKeys.

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