New frog species named Litoria Bella discovered in Australia

Oct 6, 2016 18:50 IST

A new frog species named Cape York graceful tree frog, scientifically known as Litoria Bella, was discovered recently in Australia’s largest virgin forest in Queensland. The study was published in the journal Zootaxa on 27 September 2016.

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The newly discovered species closely resembles the Graceful tree frog (Litoria Gracilenta).

The research and discovery was done by Dr Jodi Rowley, a curator of amphibian and reptile conservation biology at the Australian Museum, along with scientists Keith McDonald, Stephen Richards and Greta Frankham.

Highlights of the Cape York graceful tree frog or Litoria Bella
• The Cape York Graceful Treefrog is known from between Moa Island in the Torres Strait in the north, to about 20 km south of Coen on the Cape York Peninsula in the south.
• The southern-most location of the new species is separated by 220 km from the most northern record of the Graceful Treefrog in the Endeavour Valley near Cooktown.
• The Cape York Graceful frogs have a near-immaculate green dorsum, bright orange digits, bluish purple thighs and white bones.
• They also measure about four centimetres long, which is considered big for the species.
• They spend most of their time in the tree canopy and come down to ponds when it rains or during breeding season.
• The species was thought to occur all the way from north-eastern New South Wales to northern Cape York Peninsula in Queensland.

The Study
• One of the researchers from the team Keith McDonald from the Queensland museum had first laid eyes on this Cape York tree frog in 2000 during one of his field-work outings.
• However, the frog was determined to be a new species on 27 September 2016 after undergoing rigorous tests for a year.
• By looking at differences in its appearance, as well as its advertisement call and DNA, it was concluded that the Cape York Graceful Tree frog is a distinct species, bringing the number of known frog species in Australia to 239.

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