Scientists have discovered two new species of very elusive frogs that live on the forest floor in the Tsaratanana Massif – the highest mountain in Madagascar.
A team of scientists from Germany and Spain found a number of species, many of which are new to science based on taxonomy criteria such as genetics, morphology and even the sounds they make, as well as two new species of frogs — Rombophryne ornata and Rombophryne tany.
“Those mountains are home to a high level of native species and are very rarely visited by researchers seeing as there are no roads — and barely any paths — that lead to the base,” said David Vieites, a scientist at the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid (MNCN-CSIC).
“Both species live on the forest floor — among the fallen leaves — and are difficult to spot,” he said.
Rombophryne ornata, which received its name owing to its colour and decorative features, can be told apart from other frogs of the same genus by the reddish colour it presents. It has a black mark between each eye as well as on its back, and it also presents spines located over its eye sockets.
The scientists carried out a more thorough molecular analysis on Rombophryne tany since this species does not have any features that distinguish it from other species belonging to the same genus. Its name tany, which means ‘land’ or ‘ground’ in the local language, not only references the frog’s brownish colour, but also its tendency to spend time on the ground. This species also presents spines over each eye.
“Discovering this species is another example of the great diversity of animals in tropical areas that have yet to be described before many of these areas disappear as a result of the deforestation suffered by tropical regions, especially Madagascar,” Vieites said.