Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A new frog: Pristimantis attenboroughi

Credit: Dr. Edgar Lehr from publication
One extraordinarily diverse genus of frogs, Pristimantis, includes 465 recognized species, 131 of them from Peru. The mountainous terrain of the Andes probably led to the evolution of so many different ground-dwelling frogs, in which the eggs develop directly into tiny baby frogs without going through a tadpole phase.

The new species inhabits several localities across the Pui Pui Protected Forest, a nature reserve located at elevations between 3400 and 3936 m in central Peru. Its name was dedicated to Sir David Frederick Attenborough in honor for his educational documentaries on wildlife, especially on amphibians (e.g., Life in Cold Blood, Fabulous Frogs), and for raising awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation.

For the experts: We describe a new species of Pristimantis from upper montane forests and high Andean grasslands of the Pui Pui Protected Forest and its close surroundings, Región Junín, central Peru. The description of the new species is based on 34 specimens found at elevations between 3400 and 3936 m a.s.l. Pristimantis attenboroughi sp. n. is characterized by a snout–vent length of 14.6–19.2 mm in adult males (n = 21), 19.2–23.0 mm in adult females (n = 10), and is compared morphologically and genetically with other taxonomically and biogeographically relevant species of Pristimantis. The new species is characterized by having narrow digits that lack circumferential grooves, irregularly shaped, discontinuous dorsolateral folds, and absence of both tympanic membrane and tympanic annulus. The high similarity in morphology between P. attenboroughi sp. n. and members of the Andean genera Phrynopus and Bryophryne provides an example for convergent evolution, and highlights the importance of using molecular data to justify generic assignment. Pristimantis attenboroughi sp. n. is most similar to Phrynopus chaparroi from the Región Junín, suggesting that the generic placement of this species needs to be revised. Phylogenetically the new species belongs to the Pristimantis danae species Group, a clade that includes several Pristimantis species distributed in the montane forests of central Peru, including P. albertus, P. aniptopalmatus, P. ornatus, and P. stictogaster.