Ordinarily the discovery of two new frogs species would be only cause for jubilation, and it is, but there’s a catch and it’s a big one. At Omar Torrijos National Park, researchers noticed a frog they suspected might be a new species but it resembled other frogs in the area. It has round finger and toe disks which set it apart from other similar species. Recently the frog was determined to be a new species and has been named Pristimantis educatoris (pictured above). It is only .8 to 1.6 inches long.
The second frog was discovered in a trip to Darien Province, which is near the border of Colombia. This one was named Pristimantis adnus, because ADN is the acronym for DNA in Spanish and the frog was identified as a unique species using DNA analysis.
So what’s the catch? It is called chytridiomycosis, or chytrid fungus. It kills frogs by clogging the skin. So far chytrid fungus has killed many frogs worldwide: “Bd is a very important chytrid fungus because it appears to be capable of infecting most of the world’s approximately 6,000 amphibian species and many of those species develop the disease chytridiomycosis which is linked to devastating population declines and species extinctions.”
The two newly discovered frogs are both threatened by the destructive fungus. The fungus is in Panama’s forests and has been sickening and killing many frogs there, and Panama is a biologically diverse and rich country. The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project actually manages frog populations in captive breeding programs away from the infected forests, so the species can survive in uncontaminated spaces.
The total number of frogs in Panama and Costa Rica documented by scientists is now 197. There could be many undiscovered species in the areas where these latest two were found.
Image Credit: Andrew Crawford, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute