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New Glass Frog Shows You its Heart!

S u m m a r y :
You know how some people wear their heart on their sleeves, right? Well, we now have a frog that wears its heart for all of us to see! Literally! And, it’s not just its heart that we can contemplate. The new findings are published in ZooKeys.

A Glass Frog Shows You Its Insides

A new species of frog has been discovered in the Amazon lowlands of Ecuador. Named Hyalinobatrachium yaku (H. yaku), it is distinct from other frogs, and other animals by far, because of its transparent nature: you can see through its skin, deep into its body.

The glass frog shows you its insides through its transparent belly: from its heart to its kidneys and urinary bladder.

Adult male, in dorsal and ventral views. Photo credits: J.M GUAYASAMIN ET AL/ZOOKEYS 2017.

Naming the Frog

An international team of researchers are behind the discovery. They performed field observations, and recorded its specific call (vocalisation). They also carried out DNA analyses of various specimens, and eventually concluded that the transparent frog was a new species. It was later named H. yaku.

Yaku means water, taken from a language called Kichwa, spoken in Ecuador and Peru; apparently, H. yaku might also be living in Peru. It is to be noted that glass frogs generally reside in streams. Their eggs hold onto the underside of leaves where they hatch, falling as tadpoles into the water.

More Transparent Frogs

H. yaku is not the only one of its kind; other Hyalinobatrachium species exist, and they bear the characteristic transparent belly which makes the organs conspicuous in the ventral view.

For instance, find below Hyalinobatrachium pellucidum.

Hyalinobatrachium pellucidum. Photo credits: L. A. Coloma.

As mentioned earlier, the species was differentiated with respect to its morphology, vocalisations, and genes. H. yaku has been found to have small, dark green spots on its head and back, and a transparent pericardium, unlike other species.

H. yaku Endangered

According to its discoverers, its habitat is made vulnerable, and it is also subjected to pollution. The researchers explain that oil extraction, happening in around 70% of the Amazon rainforest covered in Ecuador, together with mining activities might be potential threats.


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