Friday 1 February 2013

A new species of Toad from the coastal restingas of southern Brazil.

True Toads of the Family Bufonidae (a variety of unrelated Frogs from around the world are colloquially known as 'Toads', but the Family Bufonidae are the only group to which this is universally applied) occur naturally on every continent except Antarctica and Australia, and have been introduced to Australia. They occupy a wide variety of environments, including fairly arid, sandy regions where Amphibians are not generally expected. True Toads tend to be warty in appearance and to lack teeth. Most species can excrete toxins through their skins, and in many species male Toads can become female under some circumstances.

In a paper published in the American Museum Novitates on 14 November 2012, a team of scientists led by Pedro Peloso of the Division of Vertebrate Zoology (Herpetology) and Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History, describe a new species of Toad from the coastal resingas (shrubby woodland on acidic sandy soils) of Espírito Santo State in southern Brazil.

The new species is placed in the genus Melanophryniscus (South American Redbelly Toads), and given the specific name setiba, meaning 'seashells in abundance' in the local Tupi Guarani language; this being the popular name of the area where the Toads were found living.

Melanophryniscus setiba is a 13-16 mm reddish brown Toad with a warty skin and the majority of its fingers and toes greatly reduced, leaving it with one effective digit on each limb. The males are slightly more robust than the females.

Melanophryniscus setiba, adult male, 16 mm long. Peloso et al. (2012).

The hand (left) and foot (right) of Melanophryniscus setiba. Scale bar is 2 mm. Peloso et al. (2012).

The restinga forest where Melanophryniscus setiba was found. Peloso et al. (2012).

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