Sweet new discovery - a new species of chocolate frog

28 May 2021

Image: Chocolate Frog Credit Steve Richards

Move over Freddo, there is a new chocolate frog in town – Litoria mira, a new frog species that has been recently described by Queensland Museum scientists. 

Compared to other tree frogs, known for their green skin, Litoria mira is brown and was given the nickname chocolate frog because of its colouring. 

Lead author, Dr Paul Oliver who is a joint appointment with Queensland Museum and Griffith University said once they saw the new species, they started calling it a chocolate frog and the name stuck. 

“The closest known relative of Litoria mira is the Australian green tree frog. The two species look similar except one is usually green, while the new species usually has a lovely chocolate colouring,” Dr Oliver said. 

“What’s a little surprising about this discovery is that the well-known and common green tree frog of Australia has a long-overlooked relative living in the lowland rainforests of New Guinea. 

“Because of this we named the new frog Litoria mira because the word Mira means surprised or strange in Latin.” 

Steve Richards from the South Australian Museum, who was a co-author on the paper said the researchers thought the species is probably widespread in New Guinea. 

“Because the frog lives in very hot, swampy areas with lots of crocodiles, all these things discourage exploration,” Dr Richards said. 

“While New Guinea is not a place most Australians know well; many animal groups are shared. So understanding biodiversity in New Guinea helps us to understand the history and origins of Australia’s unique fauna.” 

Queensland Museum CEO Dr Jim Thompson said taxonomy plays an important role in the field of science and understanding the biodiversity of the world. 

“The work of a taxonomist is very similar to a detective – they seek to find out more about the animal and plant species of the world often using cutting edge genetic technologies to unlock new information,” Dr Thompson said. 

“There is still much to learn about biodiversity in our region, and museums play an important role in describing and conserving our natural world heritage.” 

The new paper was published recently in the Australian Journal of Zoology.


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