A new frog with curious white belly markings has been discovered in the humid, high-elevation Andean forests of Región Cusco in Peru. The new species is about 15 to 18 millimeters long, and belong to the genus Noblella, which currently has 11 species living in the western Amazon basin and the Andes, from Ecuador to Bolivia. These frogs are among the smallest Neotropical vertebrates known.
Specimens of this new species were discovered under rocks, logs, and in the leaf litter back in January 2011 at an elevation of 2,330 to 2,370 meters (7,644 to 7,776 feet) in Madre Selva, near Santa Ana in the province of La Convención. An international trio led by Southern Illinois University’s Alessandro Catenazzi described the new species – which they named Noblella madreselva – in ZooKeys last week.
Similar to the other species in their genus, Noblella madreselva has a geographic distribution that’s likely restricted to the upper watersheds of its type locality. And while the conservation status of the new frog is unknown at the moment, Andean montane forest amphibians are facing many threats, ranging from deforestation to disease.
One of the characteristics that distinguish this new frog from known Noblella species is its unique white-on-dark underside. Its throat is brown with tiny white dots, and its belly is blackish-red with one or two broad, irregularly shaped white marks surrounded by small white spots. The bottom surfaces of its limbs are also red with little white spots. The frogs sport a dark brown facial mask and a brown band that extends from the tip of their snout to the groin region. Its iris is bronze with black flecks.
Noblella madreselva was named after the type locality but also the lodge Madre Selva that was created nearby. Ecotourism, the researchers write, can contribute to biodiversity conservation by promoting a sustainable use of fragile ecosystems like these humid montane forests.
[H/T: Live Science]