Animals: Chocolate frogs and rainbowfish among this year’s newly described species | Science | New


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Almost as delicious as its fictional counterpart, Synapturanus danta is a chocolate frog from the Peruvian Amazon that has only recently been described by science. The burrowing species has long been known to local people, however, with a local name for it being “rana danta”, or the “tapir frog”, after its resemblance to the Amazonian big-nosed mammal. Conservation ecologist Dr Michelle Thompson of the Field Museum in Chicago said: ‘These frogs are really hard to find, and that leads to them being understudied.

“It’s an example of the hidden diversity of the Amazon…it’s important to document it to understand how the ecosystem works.”

Although they can be hard to see, the chocolate-colored frogs aren’t hard to hear, the researchers explained.

Dr Thompson added: “We kept hearing this ‘beep-beep-beep’ coming from underground, and we suspected it might be a new species of burrowing frog.”

According to the team, it took the help of local guides to capture a specimen, which they unearthed after digging in bogs.

S. danta was described in the review Scalable systematics.

The roseate wrasse (Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa), on the other hand, is a beautiful rainbow-colored fish that lives amid the reefs of the Maldives.

It was brought to light by the California Academy of Sciences’ “Hope for Reefs” initiative, which aims to improve our understanding and help protect coral reefs around the world.

The first species to be formally described by a Maldivian researcher, C. finifenmaa was first collected by researchers in the 1990s – but was confused with the adult version of a different species, C. rubrisquamis, which was known from only one juvenile. .

Unfortunately, according to the team, even though the species has only just been described, it is already exploited through the hobby aquarium trade.

The article’s author and ichthyologist, Professor Luiz Rocha, said: “Although the species is quite abundant and therefore not currently at high risk of overexploitation, it is still troubling that a fish is already in commercial even before having a scientific name.

“It shows how much biodiversity there is yet to be described in coral reef ecosystems.”

C. finifenmaa was described in the review ZooKeys.

Dr Thompson said: ‘These frogs are really hard to find, leading to them being understudied’ (Photo: Pensoft/Field Museum)

The rose-veiled napoleon

The rose-tailed wrasse is a rainbow-colored fish that lives amidst the reefs of the Maldives (Image: Pensoft / Yi-Kai Tea)

Speaking of mass market appeal, our next species was named after American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift.

Found living in Appalachia in the United States, Nannaria swiftae is one of 16 new twist-clawed millipedes described by researchers in April of this year.

Virginia Tech entomologist Dr Derek Hennen said he had been a fan of Ms Swift’s work for years.

He said, “Her music got me through the ups and downs of grad school, so naming a new species of centipede after her is my way of saying thank you.”

Twist-clawed millipedes are difficult to study because they live above and below the forest floor, where they feast on decaying leaves and other plant matter, helping to release vital nutrients into the ecosystem.

N. swiftae was also described in the review ZooKeys.

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Taylor Swift and her namesake

Nannaria swiftae, named after Taylor Swift, is a twist-clawed centipede described in April (Photo: Derek Hennen/Getty Images)

Greta Thunberg and her namesake

A black-eyed tree frog from Panama was named Pristimantis gretathunbergae after Greta Thunberg (Image: Mebert et al./ZooKeys/Getty Images)

Ms Swift is not the only famous person to be honored this year.

In 2018, the Rainforest Trust celebrated its 30th anniversary by auctioning the naming rights of some species new to science.

The winner, whose identity has not been revealed, chose to name a black-eyed frog from eastern Panama Pristimantis gretathunbergae in honor of the work done by young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg to highlight the need for combat climate change.

Tragically, P. gretathunbergae lives in a habitat in heavily fragmented cloud forest, threatened by encroaching deforestation and vulnerable to rising temperatures that it may well disappear in the not so distant future.

P. gretathunbergae has also been described in ZooKeys.

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Shawnella Phalotris

Phalotris shawnella is a flamboyant red snake from the Cerrado forests of eastern Paraguay. (Photo: Jean-Paul Brouard)

Our latest stunning species to make its debut in scientific literature this year is Phalotris shawnella – a flamboyant red snake with a distinctive yellow collar from the Cerrado forests of eastern Paraguay.

P. shawnella, which is not venomous, was found by chance by zoologist Jean-Paul Brouard of Para La Tierra while digging at Rancho Laguna Blanca in 2014.

Unfortunately, the species – which is only known from three individuals – is considered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature to be “endangered”, being in imminent danger of extinction in the absence of measures for the conservation of the species. protect.

The researchers said: “This demonstrates once again the need to protect the natural environment of this region of Paraguay.

“Laguna Blanca has been designated a nature reserve for a period of five years, but currently has no protection.

“The preservation of this site should be considered a national conservation priority.”

P. shawnella was described in the review Zoosystematics and evolution.


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