A crew of Australian scientists has discovered a “chocolate frog” tree frog in the rainforests of New Guinea.
Tree frogs are famous for their green skin, but scientists named it “chocolate frog”, and the name stayed due to its brown colour.
“The nearest known relative of Litoria Mira is the Australian green tree frog. Both species look similar except one is generally green, while the new species generally has a lovely chocolate colour,” Paul Oliver, who described the discovery in a co-authored paper in the Australian Journal of Zoology, said in an interview.
New Guinea and Australia were once linked by land for much of the Tertiary period 2.5 million years ago, but now, New Guinea is governed by rainforest, while southern Australia is mainly savannah. Litoria caerulea or green tree frogs can be found across eastern and northern Australia and New Guinea.
Australian researchers discovered one of the creatures in 2016, and they believe the animal could be widespread across New Guinea.
“As the frog lives in swampy and very hot areas with lots of crocodiles, all these things discourage exploration,” Steve Richards from the South Australian Museum said.
However, the creatures may look like the enchanted, magical snacks found in the Harry Potter series; the resemblance stops there.
“We named this species Mira, which means strange or surprised in Latin because it was a surprising discovery to find a neglected relative of Australia’s common and well-known green tree living in the lowland rainforests of New Guinea,” Oliver said.
“Determining the biotic interchange between these two regions is important in understanding how the rainforest and savannah habitat types have contracted and expanded over the time,” Oliver said.
“Estimates in our study shows that in the Pliocene (2.6 million years ago), there was still connectivity between both of the species across lowland tropical habitats of New Guinea and northern Australia,” he added.