Amazon rainforests in Guiana, the northern region of Brazil and French Guiana (The Guiana Shield), are home to 3 newly discovered ‘zombie,’ frogs, though breath out, these frogs are not flesh eating, real zombies. They are named, ‘zombie frogs,’ due to their pattern of sleeping underground more than existing above it.
Appearance of The Zombie Frog
Of the genus: synapturanus, the diminutive frog is only about 40mm (1.5 inches) in length and sports bright orange skin with white freckles. with a pointed head adapted for burrowing. Rising to the surface after heavy rain, herpetologists, from Germany were able to recognize the tiny frogs’ mating calls.
Dr. Raffael Ernst, who led the team said up to now little research has been carried out into the species. “The habitats of these frogs are difficult to be accessed, their sizes are small and, in addition, they hide under the ground, with calls that are difficult to be heard”, he said.
Ernst found it hard work digging, seemingly continuously in wet mud for the elusive frog, though it was worth the wait for the chirping frog that’s never been heard or at least logged before. The project was part of his field work for his PHD which took 2 years.
Ernst suspects that ‘narrow-mouthed frog’ family members are more widely distributed than first thought, existing in tropical climates where they can remain buried for long periods. Synapturanus were classified as a new species based on 12 different morphological characteristics such as body size, development of fringes on fingers and coloration among others.
His original objective was to investigate the impacts of loss of biodiversity caused by human activity by examining amphibians. By almost accident he found the rare frog.
Threats to The Zombie Frog
Amphibians are extremely sensitive to water quality and environmental degradation, that humans create, including toxic chemicals, diseases, habitat destruction and pollution. The global amphibian decline is a sign of humans encroaching on t=amphibian habitat. Experts note that systematic decreases in amphibian populations, is underpinned by 70% of amphibian species are now threatened with extinction.
Destruction of the Amazon rainforest is particularly a threat to amphibians, though poaching and large infrastructure projects, plus burning for clearing land for agriculture are all increasing threats to this newly discovered yet already possibly endangered frog.
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