Researchers have found two tree-frog species in Taiwan that appear to have an odd behaviour: the tree frogs feed on the sticky, unfertilised eggs of their mother, according to a new study.
A new-found tree frog species known as Kurixalus berylliniris – an endemic species of the Taiwanese genus Kurixalus (Anura, Rhacophoridae) – has a slim body and eyes ranging from yellow-green to blue-green.
Kurixalus berylliniris was discovered in the forests of eastern Taiwan. According to researchers, the species has sexual dimorphism – which means that the two sexes of the same species exhibit different characteristics (besides their sexual organs), in this case their size. The females are a little bit larger than males: they are about 1.6 inches (forty-one millimetres) long, compared with male Kurixalus berylliniris, which measure 1.37 inches (thirty-five mm) in length.
Dr. Shu-Ping Wu, a professor at the University of Taipei who also led the new study, and his colleagues, found that some of the Kurixalus berylliniris tadpoles (the larval stage in the life cycle of an amphibian) had creamy and yellow bellies. That was an indication that the baby frogs fed on their mother’s unfertilised eggs, according to Dr. Wu.
The other species of tree frog that was recently discovered was named Kurixalus wangi after Ching-Shong Wang – who was a pioneer herpetologist. This tiny frog species with golden-yellow eyes is smaller than Kurixalus berylliniris. The female Kurixalus wangi are up to 1.34 inches (thirty-four millimetres) long, while the male frogs measure about 1.18 inches (thirty mm) in length, the researchers found.
This frog has a white throat and tummy, and greenish-brown skin covered in black and dark-brown spots, Dr. Wu stated.
According to researches, both Kurixalus berylliniris and Kurixalus wangi lay their eggs in tree holes. When comparing the two frogs with each other, as well as with other frog species, Dr. Wu and his colleagues found that they had different genetic feature, distinct mating calls, and different genetic compositions. This led them to conclude that Kurixalus berylliniris and Kurixalus wangi were two completely new species.
Over the past fifty years, about six to seven new species of tree frogs have been found in Taiwan’s forested areas, the researchers said.
The new findings were published on Thursday (Jan. 28) in the online journal ZooKeys.
Image Source: cdn. phys. org