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Can a new species of frog have a doppelganger? Genetics say yes
Date:8/7/2014

LAWRENCE Recently, Malaysian herpetologist Juliana Senawi puzzled over an unfamiliar orange-striped, yellow-speckled frog she'd live-caught in swampland on the Malay Peninsula.

She showed the frog to Chan Kin Onn, a fellow herpetologist pursuing his doctorate at the University of Kansas. They wondered was this striking frog with an appearance unlike others nearby in the central peninsula an unidentified species?

Poring over records to find out, the researchers saw that a comparable frog had been collected in the area 10 years earlier, but written off then as a species from an Indonesian island about 450 miles to the west. The distance and geography between the two habitats made them suspect their frog might have been formerly misidentified.

"The frog was originally confused with the Siberut Island Frog, which is a species that occurs on Siberut Island off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, due to their similar appearance in color-pattern," Chan said.

They wondered if genetic code from the exact same frog species could have jumped eastward from a remote island across 150 miles of Indian Ocean then over the whole of Sumatra then across the Strait of Malacca into the Malaysian interior?

"Despite their similarities, we had a strong suspicion that the frog from Malaysia wasn't the Siberut Island Frog," Chan said.

Later, extensive genetic analysis performed in the lab of Rafe Brown, curator of herpetology at KU's Biodiversity Institute, would determine whether the Malaysian frog was indeed new to science genetically distinct from its doppelgnger on Siberut Island.

"The lab is very high-tech and is able to run a number of different types of genetic analyses," Chan said. "It's also able to run the latest in cutting-edge genetic analysis called Next Generation Sequencing, which a lot of researchers are currently utilizing. We also have a very powerful bioinformatics lab that can analyze ex
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Contact: Brendan M. Lynch
blynch@ku.edu
785-864-8855
University of Kansas
Source:Eurekalert  

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