- A new-to-science frog species has been found in Ecuador and named in honor of Seth MacFarlane, the U.S. film and television creator responsible for the show “Family Guy.”
- The frog was found as part of an expedition to catalog and protect species in the Andes. All told, researchers have only found four individual frogs, all within a few square meters of ridgeline atop Cerro Mayordomo, a mountain on the edge of the Amazon basin.
- The frogs’ vibrant patterns likely serve as a warning sign of their toxicity, with researchers reporting burning and tingling skin after collecting the first specimen.
- Ecuador’s forests are home to more than 600 known species of frogs, and more are being described every year. Six other new-to-science species of frogs have been found on Cerro Mayordomo alone.
On a mountaintop in Ecuador, a researcher spotted some spots. The polka-dotted frog, it turned out, was new to science and has now been named Hyloscirtus sethmacfarlanei in honor of Seth MacFarlane, the U.S. film and television creator responsible for the show Family Guy and a long-time supporter of the NGO Rainforest Trust.
“It seemed perfect to name this frog, with its playful polka dots juxtaposed with its most likely threatened status, after Seth who is known more for his comedy than his dedication to science and conservation,” Rainforest Trust CEO James Deutsch said in a press release.
The frog was found by Darwin Recalde, a local field technician, as part of an expedition to catalog and protect species in the Andes led by the EcoMinga Foundation, a partner of Rainforest Trust. The new species is described in the journal PeerJ.
So far, researchers have only found four individual frogs, all within a few square meters of ridgeline atop Cerro Mayordomo, a mountain on the edge of the Amazon Basin. The area, which is protected by EcoMinga’s Machay Reserve, is described as steep and relatively inaccessible and has not been well studied. Scientists say they do not have enough data on the new frog species to assign a conservation status.
“This is a very rare frog found only at high elevations in a remote part of Machay Reserve,” Lou Jost, president of EcoMinga Foundation, wrote in a blog post about the new frog. “It took us these four years to find enough individuals to make a thorough description of it.”
Although only one female frog has been found, scientists assume all females of the species are black with red spots as no color variation is found within females of closely related species.
The frogs’ vibrant patterns likely serve as a warning sign of their toxicity, researchers say. In fact, the guides who found and collected them felt the effects firsthand. After collecting the first frog, Jost writes, “[T]heir hands and fingers … started to itch and tingle, and the pain continued even several hours after they had put the frog down. The juveniles are bright yellow and they also exude an unpleasant substance from their skin.”
Ecuador’s forests are home to more than 600 known species of frogs, and more are being described every year, including a species described earlier this year that looks like chocolate. Six other new-to-science species of frogs have been found on Cerro Mayordomo alone.
The Machay Reserve on Cerro Mayordomo is part of a 42,052-hectare (103,913-acre) ecological corridor between Llanganates and Sangay national parks, created by local governments and rural communities. However, the corridor is not an official protected area and therefore has no legal protection status.
“Our study further confirms the importance of the Llanganates–Sangay Ecological Corridor, outside of Ecuador’s national park system, as a center of endemism and diversity,” the authors report.
Video taken by Lou Jost near the site where the new frog species was found.
Banner image of Hyloscirtus sethmacfarlanei courtesy of Rainforest Trust.
Liz Kimbrough is a staff writer for Mongabay. Find her on Twitter: @lizkimbrough_
Reyes-Puig, J. P., Recalde, D., Recalde, F., Koch, C., Guayasamin, J. M., Cisneros-Heredia, D. F., … Yánez-Muñoz, M. H. (2022). A spectacular new species of Hyloscirtus (Anura: Hylidae) from the Cordillera de Los Llanganates in the eastern Andes of Ecuador. PeerJ, 10, e14066. doi:10.7717/peerj.14066
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