Newly Discovered Frog Species in PNG make it one of the most diverse frog faunas in the world

Scientists have described five new frog species in Papua New Guinea, which exhibit unique characteristics rarely seen in other tree frogs. The new species belong to the genus Litoria, and all of them seem to use structures like trees and rockfaces to deposit their offspring instead of laying their eggs directly into the water. This mechanism may have evolved to protect tadpoles from predators in water bodies below.

The newly described species include the Darai Plateau treefrog (L. daraiensis), red-bellied treefrog (L. haematogaster), Lisa’s treefrog (L. lisae), slender spotted treefrog (L. gracilis), and the Crater Mountain treehole frog (L. naispela).

The Crater Mountain treehole frog shares a unique reproductive strategy with other frog species by ‘gluing’ their eggs in sacs above treeholes, and when the eggs hatch, the tadpoles drop into water pooled in the treehole below to continue their development.

Lead researcher Dr Steve Richards from the South Australian Museum said that the findings suggest keeping eggs and tadpoles out of the water for as long as possible is a good strategy. Papua New Guinea is home to one of the most diverse concentrations of frog species in the world. Thanks to its geographic isolation, New Guinea is home to seven percent of the world’s frog species in just 0.7% of its land area.

The discovery of these unique frogs is significant as it highlights the need to protect the diversity of life in Papua New Guinea, where many species are still unknown.

The researchers used frog calls, appearance, and genetic profiles to distinguish and define these new species. With this in mind, it is likely that more species will continue to be discovered. They estimated that there could be around 700 frog species in Papua New Guinea, making it one of the most diverse frog faunas in the world.

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