In the wilds of New York City or as wild as you can get so close to skyscrapers scientists have found a new leopard frog species that for years biologists mistook for a more widespread variety of leopard frog.
While biologists regularly discover new species in remote rain forests, finding this one in the ponds and marshes of Staten Island, mainland New York and New Jersey sometimes within view of the Statue of Liberty is a big surprise, said the scientists from UCLA, Rutgers University, UC Davis, and The University of Alabama who worked together to make the unexpected discovery.
"For a new species to go unrecognized for all this time in this area is amazing," said UCLA Professor Brad Shaffer, from UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and UCLA's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Shaffer is one of the authors on the paper announcing the discovery.
"Many amphibians are secretive and can be very hard to find, but these frogs are pretty obvious, out-there animals," said Shaffer, who is also the director of the UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science. "This shows that even in the largest city in the U.S. there are still new and important species waiting to be discovered that could be lost without conservation."
In newly released research available online in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, scientists used DNA data to compare the new frog to all other leopard frog species in the region and determined that it is an entirely new species, soon to be named by the researchers. The unnamed frog joins a crowd of more than a dozen distinct leopard frog species. The newly identified wetland species likely once lived on Manhattan, and though it's now only known to live in a few nearby locations, Yankee Stadium in the Bronx would be the bull's-eye of a target drawn around its current range.
Lead author and evolutionary biologist Cathy Newman was complet
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