A new toad from the 'warm valleys' of Peruvian Andes

January 17, 2014
This image shows a male toad of the new species Rhinella yunga. Credit: J. Moravec

A new species of toad was discovered hiding in the leaf litter of the Peruvian Yungas. The word is used widely by the locals to describe ecoregion of montane rainforests, and translates as "warm valley" in English. The new species Rhinella yunga was baptized after its habitat preference. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

Like many other toads of the family Bufonidae the new species Rhinella yunga has a cryptic body coloration resembling the decaying leaves in the forest floor ("dead-leaf pattern"), which is in combination with expanded cranial crests and bony protrusions cleverly securing perfect camouflage. The different colors and shapes within the same species group however make the traditional morphological methods of taxonomic research hard to use to identify the real within the family. Nevertheless, Rhinela yunga is distinct from all related species in absence of a tympanic membrane, a round membranous part of hearing organ being normally visible on both sides of a toad's head.

"It appears that large number of still unnamed cryptic species remains hidden under some nominal species of the Rhinella margaritifera group", explains Dr Jiří Moravec, National Museum Prague, Czech Republic.

This image shows and adult female Rhinella yunga from the area of Rio Huatziroki. Credit: J. Moravec.

Among the other interesting characteristics of the true toads from the family Bufonidae are a typical warty, robust body and a pair of large poison parotoid glands on the back of their heads. The poison is excreted by the toads when stressed as a protective mechanism. Some toads, like the cane toad Rhinella marina, are more toxic than others. Male also possess a special organ, which after removing of testes becomes an active ovary and the toad, in effect, becomes female.

This image shows the habitat of Rhinella yunga in Peru. Credit: J. Moravec

Explore further: Using the cane toad's poison against itself

Related Stories

Using the cane toad's poison against itself

June 13, 2012

(Phys.org) -- An effective new weapon in the fight against the spread of cane toads has been developed by the University of Sydney, in collaboration with the University of Queensland.

Cane toad pioneers speed up invasions

July 30, 2013

(Phys.org) —Climate change is one of a number of stressors that cause species to disperse to new locations. Scientists must be able to predict dispersal rates accurately, as the movement of a new species into an area can ...

Cane toad or native frog? App prevents mistaken identity

May 22, 2013

Travelling around the top end of Australia, would you be able to tell the difference between a poisonous cane toad and a bumpy rocket frog or a giant frog? - They look similar but sound quite different. A new mobile app ...

Cane toads 'wiping out' mini crocodiles Down Under

July 3, 2013

Australia's noxious cane toad is wiping out populations of a unique miniature crocodile, researchers warned Wednesday, with fears the warty, toxic creature could extinguish the rare reptile.

Recommended for you

Seeking structure with metagenome sequences

January 19, 2017

For proteins, appearance matters. These important molecules largely form a cell's structures and carry out its functions: proteins control growth and influence mobility, serve as catalysts, and transport or store other molecules. ...

Moth gut bacterium defends its host by making antibiotic

January 19, 2017

Nearly half of all insects are herbivores, but their diets do not consist of only plant material. It is not uncommon for potentially harmful microorganisms to slip in during a feast. In a study published on January 19 in ...

Balance may rely on the timing of movement

January 19, 2017

Zebrafish learn to balance by darting forward when they feel wobbly, a principle that may also apply to humans, according to a study led by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Phages found to use peptide to communicate with one another

January 19, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers from several institutions in Israel has, for the first time, identified a molecule that phages use to communicate with one another. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the team ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.