In a press release on January 14, 2010 it was announced that an expedition to the coastal rainforests of western Ecuador has discovered 30 new species of frog and a slug-sucking snake. Huge news. The team of scientists, who work for Reptile and Amphibian Ecology International, also identified four new species of stick insect, three species of lungless salamanders, a tiny, scaly-eyed gecko known as Lepidoblepharis buschwaldii and a bushmaster – the longest viper in the world. Read on for more…
Most of the new animals were discovered in the forests of Cerro Pata de Pájaro, a mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean. About 95% of the trees around Cerro Pata de Pájaro – the area of rain and cloud forest in the west of the country where the species were discovered – have been felled for farming, said Paul Hamilton who led the expedition for Reptile & Amphibian Ecology International. In the remaining forest cover, he said the scientists had come across several important discoveries. Each mountaintop in the region is its own microhabitat, with its own variety of frog, lizard, and other small animal. “In this part of Ecuador, if you go to one spot you can find 20 or 30 species of frog, and if you go to the next site over you will see a whole bunch of different ones,” said Hamilton. [source]
Its cloud forests are particularly fecund: 14 of the 30 new species of frog discovered were found in a patch of cloud forest just a couple of miles wide. The newly-discovered frogs are “rain” frogs of the genus Pristimantis, which lay their eggs in trees. As the eggs hatch, miniature versions of the adult frogs – some the size of a pinhead – fall into the water below. One of the frogs is a so-called glass frog that has a transparent chest.
Gallery and Species Details
10. Pristimantis Frog
Rain frogs, like these unidentified Pristimantis individuals, of which the expedition may have discovered 30 new species, lay their eggs in trees, instead of in water. When they hatch the young frogs are not tadpoles, but actual mini-versions of adults. The frogs require moist forests in order to breed successfully, researchers fear that climate change could make the forests drier.
9. Xylospinodes Stick Bug
This is a new stick insect, of the genus Xylospinodes. It was one of four new species of such creatures discovered by the expedition.
8. Sibon Snake
An unidentified snail-sucking snake of the genus Sibon. The slug-sucking snake, which features a oversized head and red beady eyes, belongs to a small group of serpents that specialise in eating snails and slugs and its closest relative is found nearly 350 miles away in Peru. Many snakes of the Ecuadorean forests are threatened by man and one species – the 12ft long bushmaster viper – has been hunted almost to extinction in many parts of its range.
7. Bothriechis Schlegelli Viper
A spectacular eyelash viper, Bothriechis schlegelli.
6. Red Prismantus Rain Frog
Another unidentified rain frog of the genus Pristimantis. This one is distinguished by a red streak through the iris.
5. Horned Rain Frog
This unidentified rain frog of the genus Pristimantis was found in Cerro Pata de Pájaro in western Ecuador.
4. Bolitoglossa Salamander
Salamanders of the genus Bolitoglossa lack lungs. Instead, they breathe entirely through their skin. This one was found in western Ecuador for the first time.
3. Miniture Gecko
The tiny scaly-eyed gecko, Lepidoblepharis buschwaldii, is one of the smallest geckos known to exist.
2. Glass Frog
The Nymphagus Chancas is named for its translucent skin, which allows scientists to examine the frog’s internal organs. They are classified by their lack of webbing on their outer fingers, their lack of humeral spines in adult males, and their lobbed livers. Their natural habitats are subtropical or tropical montane rivers and forests.
1. O’Shaughnessy’s Dwarf Iguana
This bright male O’Shaughnessy’s Dwarf Iguana, Enyalioides oshaughnessyi, was discovered in a cloud forest. This is number one because it is name O’, which Lists o’ Plenty likes a lot
Bonus: Bushmaster Viper
The bushmaster, Lachesis acrochorda, is the longest viper in the world, but rarely seen in its native habitat, a likely consequence persecution by humans. These highly poisonous snakes can regularly exceed 6.5 ft in length, with one of the largest recorded at 14 ft.