MADAGASCAR: Mark Scherz discovers new species of diamond frog on the island

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MADAGASCAR: Mark Scherz discovers new species of diamond frog on the island©Mark Scherz

Mark Scherz, a German herpetologist and biologist, discovered a new species of diamond frog during a study conducted between 2014 and 2017 in the Amber Mountain National Park in northern Madagascar. The new species is named Rhombophryne ellae.

“Rhombophryne ellae” is the name that Mark Scherz, a herpetologist and evolutionary biologist gives to his new find. “Rhombophryne” represents a poorly known group of semi-fossorial, narrow-mouth frogs from Madagascar. “Ellae” is a tribute to his working partner and fiancée Ella Lattenkamp. The new species of “diamond” frog discovered in the Amber Mountain National Park in northern Madagascar was recently presented to the public by the German scientist.

“Rhombophryne ellae” is the result of a study on the taxonomy of diamond frogs of the genus Rhombophryne, conducted by Mark Scherz from 2014 to 2017. According to the scientist, Madagascar’s new “diamond” frog is “very special”. It has an orange coloration on its legs and large cream-ringed black spots above the hip that give it eye-like markings when viewed from behind. “These characteristics were virtually unknown within the genus Rhombophryne before this species, which makes it very obviously new to science. The only other member of the genus with similar characteristics is an undescribed candidate species that is still awaiting description, but it is genetically very distinct from the new species,” explains Mark Scherz.

Research continues

For the time being, the German herpetologist and evolutionary biologist Mark Scherz only knows Rhombophryne ellae from a single individual. “Therefore, we cannot yet guess how endangered the new diamond frog is. Nor can we guess its ecology, habits, etc.”. However, there is no doubt that this is a new species for science. Further research is therefore needed to see if more individuals of the species Rhombophryne ellae can be found. They have apparently been hiding under the feet of herpetologists for centuries.

Inès Magoum


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