WASHINGTON - Scientists have discovered a new frog species in the Talamanca mountains of southern Costa Rica, which changes colors depending on its gender and age.
Females of the species are generally black with white belly splotches. The males, meanwhile, have black, white, and brown markings peppering an orange-red base.
Young frogs of either sex are mostly brown with some beige and black blotches on their undersides.
This type of color divergence is “amazing” in the Diasporus genus of frog, according to the discoverers.
In fact, to “see such striking color differences between male and female frogs (in any genus) is really rare,” said Valerie C. Clark, a Ph.D. student at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
In general, red-and-black coloration in frogs is a red flag to predators that what they’re about to eat is toxic, added Clark, a frog biologist who has received funding from National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration.
“But the chemistry of the new frog species-part of the dink frog group, so named for their bell-like calls-hasn’t yet been studied,” Clark said.
The newfound amphibian was “remarkably abundant” in the high-altitude rain forest where it was found.
Even so, its limited habitat of fewer than 1.2 square miles (3 square kilometers) makes the frogs’ survival tenuous, according to the study authors.
“This study demonstrates that there is a great chance to discover new species if one takes the risk to explore remote areas, even within well-explored countries like the U.S.A. and Costa Rica,” said Clark. (ANI)