Thursday, 3 April 2014

A new species of Bush Frog from central Vietnam.

Bush Frogs (Rhacophoridae) are found throughout tropical areas of Africa and Asia. They are tree-dwelling frogs that seldom venture down to the ground, their eggs being laid in a foamy construct produced by the male Frogs which is known as a phytotelm, which is typically suspended above a source of open water, the tadpoles emerging within the phytotelm and dropping into the water. Some conspicuous Tree Frogs belong within this group, including the Old World Flying Frogs.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 2 April 2014, a team of scientist led by Jodi Rowley of the Australian Museum Research Institute describe a new species of Bush Frog from Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve in Kon Tum Province in central Vietnam.

The new species is placed in the genus Gracixalus, which is found in China and Southeast Asia, and given the specific name lumarius, meaning 'of thorns', a reference to the numerous thorny tubercles on the dorsal side (back) of the Frog; Rowley et al. suggest that in English it should be referred to as the Thorny Tree Frog.

The Thorny Tree Frog, Gracixalus lumaris. Male specimen. Rowley et al. (2014).

Gracixalus lumaris is described from four adult and one juvenile specimens, as well as a cluster of eggs found with one of the specimens. The male specimens range from 38.9 mm to 41.6 mm in length, the female is 36.3 mm long, and the juvenile 25.5 mm. The frogs have a distinctive colouration, with a yellow dorsal side covered in white, thorny tubercles, mottled yellow and pink flanks and a pink underside.

The first specimen discovered was a male found in the water-filled hole in a tree, with a cluster of eggs on the tree wall above the hole. The Frogs were all found in montane Bamboo and evergreen forest, away from any obvious source of open water, such as streams or ponds, suggesting that this species has adapted to use pools within trees as a source of water in which to breed.

The tree hole in which the first specimen of Gracixalus lumaris was located, along with its phyptotelm and eggs. Rowley et al. (2014).

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