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Frogs With Spiny Eye Sockets Discovered In Madagascar

Jan 13, 2016 11:37 AM EST

Researchers have found two new species of frogs living on the forest floor of Madagascar's high Tsaratanana Massif Mountains. Although the Massif rainforests are teeming with biodiversity, only a few native species are known to science because the area is difficult to access and fragmented, the latter of which may put the amphibians at risk of extinction. 

"Those mountains are home to a high level of native species and are very rarely visited by researchers seeing as there are no roads and barely any paths that lead to the base," David Vieites, one of the study authors and a scientist at the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid (MNCN-CSIC), said in a news release.

Based on genetics, morphology and even the sounds they make, researchers confirm the two new species of frogs – Rombophryne ornata and Rombophryne tany – are in fact unique.

"Both species live on the forest floor, among the fallen leaves, and are difficult to spot," Vieites added.

Rombophryne ornate has a reddish color and decorative features that set it apart from other frogs in its genus. It is also characterized by a black mark between each eye and on its back, and appears to have spines located over its eye sockets.

Rombophryne tan, however, is nearly identical to other species of its genus and therefore requires genetic analysis. Like its close relative, this species also has spines over each eye.

Discovering this species "is another example of the great diversity of animals in tropical areas that have yet to be described before many of these areas disappear as a result of the deforestation suffered by tropical regions, especially Madagascar," researchers concluded in their study.

Their findings were recently published in the journal Herpetologica

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