In the “nasty” swamps of New Guinea, a frog specialist has discovered a new species which he decided to call the “chocolate frog.”
Far from the fugitive confectionaries containing famous witch or wizard trading cards from the Harry Potter series, the real thing is a close relative of the Australian green tree frog, only coated in a chocolate brown skin.
Steve Richard’s home of South Australia can be a paradise, but the same can’t necessarily be said for the environment he decided to work in. New Guinea is covered in dense jungle and mangrove swamp. It’s one of the least-explored jungles on Earth, and filled with poisonous plants and animals.
Nevertheless, despite nightmarish conditions, Richards has discovered 200 frog species in its depths.
The chocolate frog, or Litoria mira, was found by Richards and his team in 2016, but analysis had to be given time to stack up before it was confirmed that, rather than being a population that migrated to New Guinea somehow, L. mira was its very own species.
Part of the difficulty is that Australian green tree frogs have been known to both exist in New Guinea and turn brown. But subtle difficulties helped the herpetologists make the call, including small patches of lavender skin around the eyes, and the fact that the chocolate frog was a bit smaller.
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Profiled by The Guardian, Richard’s explains that he accidentally disturbed an overhanging nest of giant hornets during the course of collecting the frog specimens, and had to sprint in order to escape the insects’ wrath.
“…It took so long to find this frog,” he told the British newspaper. “It’s swampy, it’s spiky, there are lots of malaria-carrying mozzies, it floods, there are crocodiles and not many roads. It’s a really unpleasant place to work.”