Scientists at the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center have discovered a new species of frog, and it looks very like the beloved Muppet, Kermit the Frog.
Hyalinobatrachium dianae, named after head researcher’s mother, Diane, is an inch-long glass frog with bright green skin and a translucent underbelly. The similarity between H. dianae and its fictional counterpart is most prominent in the bulbous white eyes with black pupils.
The team of researchers, including lead author Brian Kubicki, Stanley Salazar, and Robert Puschendorf, published the study in the February 2015 issue of Zootaxa.
H. dianae was able to avoid detection for years because of its unusual mating call, which sounds more like that of an insect. The frog's unique call, a pulsating metallic whistle used by males to attract females, was one of the factors that allowed the researchers to conclude that they had in fact found a new species.
“It’s advertisement call is quite unique,” Kubicki said. “It’s different than any other species that has been discovered.”
Additional morphological and genetic differences between H. dianae and other glass frogs also indicated that this frog was a separate species, according to investigators.
Researchers are unsure what purpose the frog’s translucent skin serves, although they believe that it may aid in camouflage.
Of the 149 species of glass frogs in the world, 14 of them reside in Costa Rica, with the others scattered throughout South and Central America. Although Costa Rica is a common research destination for scientists who study frogs, this particular species is the first glass frog discovered in the country since 1973.
The frog was discovered in the largely unexplored Caribbean side of the Talamanca mountains, which lie on the border between Costa Rica and Panama.
“We just needed some fieldwork in these areas that were poorly explored,” Brian Kubicki, the paper’s lead author, told the Tico Times, an English-language news site based in Costa Rica.
This is the team's second breakthrough of the year. In March, Kubicki and Salazar published a paper on their discovery of the first specimens of Ecnomiohyla bailarina, a fringe-limbed treefrog, outside of Panama, where the species was discovered in 2014.