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Two new rain frog species found in ancient Inca

The Pristimantis genus is already one of the most diverse frog genera in the world. Now, it's two deeper.

By
Brooks Hays
Researchers dubbed the new species Pristimantis yanezi the Yanez rain frog. Photo by Santiago Ron
Researchers dubbed the new species Pristimantis yanezi the Yanez rain frog. Photo by Santiago Ron

QUITO, Ecuador, June 2 (UPI) -- Deep in the forests of Ecuador's Llanganates National Park -- lands once frequented by ancient Incans -- live two frog species that had gone unnamed by scientists until very recently.

Researchers with the Museum of Zoology at Catholic University of Ecuador discovered the two new species of rain frogs while conducting field work in the national park. They named them Pristimantis llanganati and Pristimantis yanezi.

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The Pristimantis genus is already one of the most diverse frog genera in the world. Now, it's two deeper.

"Both new species occur in a region with few amphibian collections and nothing is known about their abundance and ecology," scientists wrote in a new paper on the discovery, published this week in the journal ZooKeys.

Researchers say the great diversity of habitats offered by the dynamic park -- as well as the Ecuadoran Andes as a whole -- and the lack of biological inventories suggest many more unnamed amphibian species await discovery.

In addition to biodiversity, Llanganates National Park is also home to ancient legends.

Locals say that in the 16th century, as the Spanish conquistadors captured the Incan Empire, native peoples attempted to save the life of their young emperor with an exchange of gold. The Spaniards apparently reneged on the deal and executed Atahualpa. Afterwards, the Incan people mummified their leader and hid him along with the gold in the forests of what's now Llanganates National Park.

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