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Emerald and Gold Tree Frogs Found In Taiwan

Feb 01, 2016 09:27 PM EST
Kurixalus berylliniris
A new tree frog species named Kurixalus berylliniris has emerald-colored eyes and a bright green body to match.
(Photo : Dr. Shu-Ping Wu)

Two new tree frog species with gemstone-colored eyes have been discovered in broadleaf forests in the island country of Taiwan. Aside from their dazzling eyes, researchers from the University of Taipei report that these frogs demonstrate a reproductive behavior unlike their siblings from mainland China and Southern Asia: As tadpole embryos they feed on eggs while still inside their mother's womb.

The team of researchers, led by Dr. Shu-Ping Wu, found that one of the species - Kurixalus berylliniris, meaning green-colored iris - primarily dwells on leaves of moist forests in eastern Taiwan. It is a slender-bodies amphibian and females tend to be slightly bigger than males, measuring an average length of 41 and 35 millimeters respectively. Its body matches its emerald eyes, with the exception of its white, speckled belly, according to a news release.

The second new tree frog - Kurixalus wangi - is relatively smaller than its new relatives, with males measuring an average of 30 millimeters and females an average of 34 millimeters, researchers say. This species is characterized by golden-yellow eyes and a distinctive brownish-green upper body with deep brown and black spots and whitish belly and throat.

Both species appear to lay their eggs in tree holes, but during different times of year. The pair is also the first representatives of their genus found in the East-Asian country. However, researchers believe it is unlikely that they are the only ones, indicating there is much more work to be done.

"The actual amphibian species diversity on the island of Taiwan is likely higher than currently thought, given the diverse habitats and the dynamic history of geographic events," researchers wrote. "Although Taiwan is a highly developed island with significant alterations to the natural landscape and destruction of critical habitats for amphibians, it is noteworthy that during the last fifty years, six of the seven newly described frog species in Taiwan were tree frogs inhabiting forested areas."

Their findings were recently published in the journal ZooKeys.

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