High in the Montane Cloud Forests of southern Brazil, a research team headed by Professor Marcio Pie from Universidade Federal do Paraná discovered seven previously unknown frog species, each on a different forested mountain peak. All belong to the genus Brachycephalus whose members average 10 millimeters in length. That’s only half the length of a U.S. penny!
Marcio Pie & Seven New Frog Species
The exploration team, lead by Professor Marcio Pie, combed through the trees and dense undergrowth – mostly moss – to explore the possibility of finding more Brachycephalus species since the genus’s definition 1842.
The new species they found were all brilliantly colored and patterned. However, like so many animals, their bright coloration means “do not touch” as the frogs contain tetrodotoxin, a paralytic poison first isolated in pufferfish.
The First New Frog: Brachycephalus Mariaeterezae
The species name of this frog – mariaeterezae – commends the conservation efforts of environmentalist Maria Tereza Jorge Pádua.
She continues her preservation efforts in Brazil and is the current president of Association Eco.
The Second New Frog Species: Brachycephalus Olivaceus
Brachycephalus olivaceus, the second species, derives its species name from the deep olive color of its skin.
Third New Frog: Brachycephalus Auroguttatus
Fourth New Frog: Brachycephalus Verrucosus
Fifth New Frog: Brachycephalus Fuscolineatus
Sixth New Frog Species: Brachycephalus Leopardus
The sixth, Brachycephalus leopardus received its name for its spots….
Seventh New Frog Species: Brachycephalus
Lucky number seven, Brachycephalus boticario, gets its name as a dedication to Fundação Grupo Boticário de Proteção à Natureza, the primary backer of the research expedition
Size & Significance
According the original journal article, all species where found between approximately 600 and 1200 meters above sea level. All were residing on the forest floor, beneath fallen leaves, and seem to have been found by researchers following their vocalizations.
Moreover, as mentioned before, each new species was located on a different mountain in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, an ecological phenomenon call “sky islands” in which very specific habitats – like those required by these teensy amphibians – are separated by valleys or lowlands inhospitable to the animal.
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