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Scientists discover new ‘chocolate frog’ in swamps of New Guinea

Barely eight centimetres in size, it has eyes the size of marbles: the Litoria Mira is a new frog species discovered in New Guinea. Due to its brown colour and the striking resemblance to the jumping candy from the Harry Potter films, the Litoria Mira is also called ‘chocolate frog’.

The chocolate frog is very similar in appearance to its cousin, the Australian green tree frog. As the name of the latter frog suggests, it has a green colour in contrast to the chocolate frog.

The colour is immediately the most striking difference between the two frog species. However, genetic research has shown that there are several (small) differences that allowed researchers to conclude that these are two separate species. They described this in a paper in the Australian Journal of Zoology.

For example, the chocolate frog has lavender-coloured spots behind its eyes and is slightly smaller than its green cousin. In addition, the Litoria Mira was found in a swampy area in New Guinea. In the north and northeast of Australia – the largest habitat of the green tree frog – a tropical savanna climate suggests that the chocolate frog does not occur in that area.

The Australian green tree frog
©Reuters – The Australian green tree frog

Naming

“We named the new frog Litoria Mira because ‘Mira’ means surprised or astonished in Latin,” said Paul Oliver, the researcher who has conducted genetic research on the ‘chocolate frog’.

Litoria is the scientific genus name to which 92 species of frogs belong. “Admittedly, it was a surprising discovery to find a new relative of Australia’s most famous green tree frog.”

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