Researchers from Australia have identified a new tree frog species that’s been dubbed the “chocolate frog” due to its milky brown skin.
A paper published by scientists from Queensland Museum and Griffith University in the Australian Journal of Zoology details the discovery of Litoria mira in the dense lowland rainforests of New Guinea.
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The frog was discovered in 2016, and researchers conducted genetic analysis to confirm it is indeed a new species. Researchers believe the chocolate frog could be widespread across New Guinea, and the frog may have managed to remain a secret for so long due to the thick, impenetrable rainforest swamps it calls home.
“The closest known relative of Litoria mira is the Australian green tree frog. The two species look similar except one is usually green, while the new species usually has a lovely chocolate colouring,” Paul Oliver, a co-author of the study and researcher from Queensland Museum, said in a statement.
“What’s a little surprising about this discovery is that the well-known and common green tree frog of Australia has a long-overlooked relative living in the lowland rainforests of New Guinea,” Oliver said.
“Because of this we named the new frog Litoria mira because the word Mira means surprised or strange in Latin.”
Researchers note the finding highlights the ancient links between Australia and New Guinea, which were linked by land for much of the late Tertiary period about 2.6 million years ago. New Guinea is dominated by rainforest while northern Australia is mainly savannah.
The common green tree frogs, Litoria caerulea, are found across northern and eastern Australian and New Guinea.
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Scientists discover new ‘chocolate frog’ | TheHill – The Hill