Juan Guayasamin has spent years exploring the tropical climes of South America. The Universidad San Francisco de Quito professor has seen numerous amphibians as a result, since many different species live in these regions. One frog, however, stands out from the rest. It is, to use Guayasamin's word, "spectacular."
"It has a yellow dorsum [back] with black stripes," he told Seeker. "Its iris varies from light blue to grayish green."
The frog is a newly identified species that Guayasamin and colleague Chris Funk of Colorado State University have named Pristimantis ecuadorensis, the Ecuadorian rain frog. They describe it in the journal PLOS ONE.
"The discovery is surprising, mostly because of the colorful nature of this species," Guayasamin said. "Often times, the most beautiful species are readily recognized and described. The description of P. ecuadorensis is an exception to this rule."
The unique find occurred while he and Funk were performing genetic sampling of frogs from sites while crisscrossing the western slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes. Ecuador is ringed by a Pacific coastline, the Amazon basin in the east, and the Andes Mountains in the middle. DNA sequencing allowed the researchers to confirm that their spectacular frog, which hails from the Andes Las Pampas region, is indeed a new species.