Newly Discovered Transparent Glass Frogs Already Endangered


The Mashpi glass frog has a transparent abdomen.

Lucas Bustamante/Jaime Culebras

Glass frogs look unreal. Small amphibians have transparent abdomens that provide a window into their internal organs. A team of researchers have described two newly identified species of glass frogs and sounded the alarm about the animals’ delicate conservation situation near Andean mining sites in Ecuador.

The newly described species are the Mashpi glass frog (Hyalinobatrachium mashpi) and the nouns glass frog (nouns Hyalinobatrachium). Close examination of their DNA and distinct calls helped distinguish them from other glass frogs. The team released a article on animals in PeerJ magazine Last week.

Ethereal looking glass frogs are found in the Andes. “Many of these sites are incredibly remote, which is one of the reasons we were able to discover new species,” said a PhD in environmental science. candidate and co-author of the study Becca Brunner said in a Berkeley Rausser College of Natural Resources Statement. “You can walk a few miles up a ridge and find a different community of frogs than where you started from.”

The researchers recommended that the two new species be placed on the endangered species list in accordance with guidelines from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the organization that maintains the IUCN Red List of Threatened Speciesa catalog that tracks the conservation status of animals and plants.

A male Mashpi Glass Frog stands guard over his eggs before they hatch.

Lucas Bustamante/Jaime Culebras

Frogs are found in forests where agriculture and mining threaten their environment. Scientists worry about pollution and habitat loss. “If a mining company comes along and destroys the few streams where we know these frogs exist, that’s likely the extinction of the species,” Brunner said.

The glass frogs highlight the biodiversity of the Andes and suggest how much there is left to learn about the animals that live in the mountain range.

Evolutionary biologist Juan Guayasamin of Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador is co-author of the paper. “The problem is not finding new species, the real challenge is having the time and resources to describe them,” Guayasamin said.

These glass frogs were found in time to share them with the world, but other endangered species might not be so lucky.


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