A new species of a tree frog that was just recently discovered on an abandoned highway located in Brazil may already be at risk for extinction, according to its discoverers. A team of scientists heard the sounds of male frogs calling from within the Amazon rain forest, unsure if this animal species was new to science or potentially a waste of time. So, they decided to travel into the Purus and Madeira Rivers in search of answers to this mystery.
One of the herpetologists, Rafael de Fraga from the National Institute of Research of the Amazon, had then later verified the frog species using genetic analysis. Resulting in the name that the team of herpetologists decided to label the frog as: Scinax onca. Which translates to the jaguar snouted tree frog, since this species of frog has spotted skin which is somewhat similar to the local big cats also found within the area.
The journey into finding more of the jaguar frog’s kind proved to be a pretty big success according to De Fraga, “During the sampling expeditions we were also lucky enough to spot several jaguars,” However, the path to discovery on this particular highway is not an easy one. “the highway is definitely more dangerous than jaguars [because] many people have died there by car crash or fallen bridges.” De Fraga claims.
He also notes that since the Purus and Madeira Rivers have such a diverse menagerie of species, that this place is “very special from a biological point of view,” The jaguar frog has orange eyes, is about two inches in length, covered in black spots with a white underside. Including that this species is also sexually dimorphic which means that one of the gender differences between the frogs is that the females are much larger than the males. The males trill mating call sounds a lot like a woodsaw and lasts about 100 milliseconds.
As far as the journal Zookeys is concerned, there is not a lot of information about this newly discovered species of frog from the studies they have recently conducted. Even though Darrel Frost, curator emeritus of the American Museum of Natural History, was not apart of the study he states that “[The discovery is] not a huge surprise, but it’s indicative of kind of a push within Brazil to understand the environment.”
Some of the major impacts that have happened in the rain forest have actually caused quite a dent in the amount of amphibious species that are discovered in the Amazon. In fact, they have been disappearing at alarming rates with the continuous onslaught of deforestation and deadly chytrid fungus. Because of these factors, De Fraga believes that this species of frog, as well as a variety of other species, are endangered.
The state in which the highway is in, this might lead to habitat destruction for a handful of species that live there. De Fraga claims “We are not totally opposed to the highway recovering, because many local people live completely isolated from basic resources such as hospitals. “But it is rather disturbing to watch the region being converted into urban areas without any concern for the biodiversity that is being lost.”
We must truly ask ourselves if expansion such as this, where it harms not only the surrounding environment but the local communities of animals, is the longevity worth the risk and lives of these species? Scientific research is extremely important but so is the need for humans to expand their society.