Saturday, 8 January 2011

Aussie discovers Vampire Flying Frog

Meet Rhacophorus vampyrus or the Vampire Flying Frog, a strange new species of frog harking from south Vietnam recently discovered by Australian Museum Scientist Jodi Rowley.

The new species is only known to inhabit a single, high-elevation patch of montane forest in Southern Vietnam, where it breeds in small, water-filled holes in trees. 

This unusual frog has adapted for life in the trees, using webbed fingers and toes for jumping from great heights and gliding - hence the ‘flying frog’ name. But it’s the strange black ‘fangs’ the species’ tadpoles display which has earned it a place in the vampire world. In place of a normal set of mouthparts (usually similar to a beak), tadpoles of the Vampire Flying Frog have a pair of hard, black ‘fangs’ protruding from the underside of their mouth.

This newly discovered fanged tadpole is giving the Australian Museum research scientist Jodi Rowley and her colleagues plenty to think about. "This is the first time that ‘fangs’ have been recorded in a frog tadpole. We can only speculate at this stage what the fangs are for and we are now looking in to that,” Jodi said.

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