Two thumbs up for this extraordinary find in the Ecuadorean Andes. Scientists discovered a new species of treefrog which has an “extraordinary” claw-like thumb.
The new treefrog species, named Hyloscirtus hillisi, was discovered after a two-week expedition to a remote tabletop mountain at Cordillera del Cóndor, a largely unexplored range in the eastern Andes.
Scientists say the frog has an enlarged claw-like structure located at the base of the thumb. Its function is unknown, but it could be that it is used either as a defense against predators or as a weapon in fights between competing males.
Finding the frog was not easy. “To reach the tabletop, we walked two days along a steep terrain. Then, between sweat and exhaustion, we arrived to the tabletop where we found a dwarf forest. The rivers had blackwater and the frogs were sitting along them, on branches of brown shrubs similar in color to the frogs’ own. The frogs were difficult to find, because they blended with their background,” said Alex Achig, one of the field biologists who discovered the new species.
Video from the forest shows the dark brown frog, with orange flecks, almost blending into the rocks and water in the stream.
The discovery of the frog, which scientists Santiago R. Ron, Marcel Caminer, Andrea Varela, and Diego Almeida from the Catholic University of Ecuador concluded that the frog represented a previously unknown species, was published in the journal ZooKeys.
Hyloscirtus hillisi is named after Dr. David Hillis, a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, who discovered three closely related frog species in the same genus in the 1980s, while conducting a series of field trips to the Andes of southern Ecuador.