Science & Technology

Hyloscirtus hillisi – the newly discovered treefrog species – is already at risk of extinction

Researchres have discovered a new treefrog species that has been named Hyloscirtus hillisi.

The new species is an extraordinary one with enlarged claw-like structure located at the base of the thumb. The treefrog lives on a remote tabletop mountain in the Andes. Published in the journal ZooKeys, the new discovery was made during a two-week expedition to a Cordillera del Condor, a largely unexplored range in the eastern Andes. Having conducted analyses of genetic and morphologic data, scientists from the Catholic University of Ecuador concluded that the frog represented a previously unknown species.

Researchers say that they haven’t been able to figure out the use of the enlarged claw-like structure located at the base of the thumb. However, they believe that it could be that it is used either as a defence against predators or as a weapon in fights between competing males.

The species has been named after Dr. David Hillis, a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, who discovered three closely related frog species in the same genus in the 1980s, while conducting a series of field trips to the Andes of southern Ecuador.

One important thing to note about the new species is that the newly discovered treefrog species is already at risk of extinction because it has a small distribution range near a large-scale mining operation carried out by a Chinese company, researchers said.

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