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Newly Discovered Frog Can Morph Its Skin Texture

Contributed by on March 25, 2015 at 5:28 pm

A newly discovered “mutable rain frog” can morph its skin texture, changing from smooth to spiny in minutes. The rain frog, known as Pristimantis mutabilis, is the size of a fingernail and the first shape-shifting amphibian ever discovered.

The frog was discovered on the Andes Mountains in Ecuador inside of a cloud forest reserve. The misty cloud forest, called the Reserva Las Gralarias, is a protected area and a biodiversity hotspot. It’s also the home of numerous rare butterflies and bird species. Scientists discovered a new species of glass frog in the reserve in 2012.

The new shape-shifting frog was discovered by scientists during their annual survey of the local amphibian population. For the last decade, Katherine Krynak (biologist) and Tim Krynak (naturalist) have walked the trails in the reserve at night. The two listened for frog calls and searched the area for new species.

The two first discovered the frog in 2006, but only later realized that it could be a new species. After Juan Guayasamíin, a professor at Ecuador’s Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica, suggested the frog may be a new species, the Krynaks set out to find another frog at the reserve. The pair managed to grab one and snap a detailed photo session.

But after returning to the lab with the frog, the two were disappointed to find that the frog’s spiny skin had disappeared. Believing they had captured the wrong frog, Katherine Kryak made preparations to bring the frog back to the reserve. She couldn’t believe her eyes when she checked on the frog and found its spiny texture had reappeared.