Kermit’s Doppelgänger: a new glass frog from Costa Rica

April 21, 2015 • 2:47 pm

Here’s a “ribbet-ing discovery”, a pun that comes from the Daily Mail. And, this time I did check the date on the research, and it is indeed new. The bad news is that I can’t access the journal Zootaxa (you can find three pages of the larger paper here, two of which are references), so I’m going on second-hand reports, which report the discovery of a new glass frog in the genus Hyalinobatrachium: H. dianae, which already has its own Wikipedia page.  Here’s a screenshot of part of the first page, which gives the reference:

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 8.08.12 AM

The frog is getting attention because it supposedly looks like Kermit.  You be the judge; I refer you to that eminent repository of biological research, The Daily Mail:

(Daily Mail) A new species of glass frog has been discovered with translucent skin so you can see its insides. Hyalinobatrachium dianae (pictured) was found in the mountains of eastern Costa Rica and has a distinctive call.

Glass frogs are of course named after their renowned transparency, which this one shares:

(Daily Mail): The animal’s heart, liver and gastrointestinal tract are easily visible (pictured) thanks to translucent skin on its under side. It’s distinguishable from other glass frogs which have this strange characteristic, by its long toes and black and white eyes
Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 2.34.15 PM
(Daily Mail): H. dianae stands out from other glass frogs because of its unusual black and white eyes (pictured left), which are similar to those of Kermit the Frog, of the Muppets (pictured right) in that they face forward

The Mail reports (hey, I’m happy that they give this much biological information in a tabloid!):

Scientists were surprised to stumble across the frog, given that a through survey of the region was conducted late last century, and reported their find in the journal Zootaxa.

The frog was named by Brian Kubicki who discovered it, after his mother Janet Diana Kubicki to thank her for supporting his interest in science, Costa Rica’s Tico Times reported.

. . . Lead author of the study, Dr Kubicki said: Its advertisement call is quite unique…It’s different than any other species that has been discovered.’

The study says the frog’s ‘advertisement call’ consists of ‘a single tonal long metallic whistle-like note with a duration of 0.40–0.55 s… and a dominant frequency of 3.35–3.44 kHz’.

It’s likely the frog uses it to find a mate in the mountain forests.

Dr Kubicki said that the amphibian sounds more like an insect than a frog, which may explain how experts missed it during their extensive survey.

The frog also measures just one inch (2.5cm) long, making it relatively difficult to spot among the foliage in the west forests and rainforests of the Caribbean foothills of Costa Rica where it was discovered at elevations of between 1,312 ft to 2,624 ft (400–800 m).

And USA Today adds this:

Brian Kubicki said the small, semi-translucent specimen is delicate and “is a good indicator of the general health of the eco-system.” Kubicki named the frog “Hyalinobatrachium dianae” in honor of the senior author’s mom Janet Diane Kubicki, the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center says.

Other authors include Stanley Salazar and Robert Puschendorf, according to the Center.

According to C|Net, the species has been given the adorable common name of “Diane’s Bare-hearted glassfrog,”

 NBC News has a report with a video and this introduction:

A new species of frog found in the Central American country of Costa Rica is being compared to Jim Henson’s most famous Muppet and apparently the two look most alike in the eyes.

I love the note “the Central American country of Costa Rica,” as if most people don’t know where it is. But by “most people” I mean “most people in the world,” for Americans are notoriously ignorant about geography.

And here’s the video; click on the screenshot below to see it:

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 8.04.23 AM

h/t: Chris

31 thoughts on “Kermit’s Doppelgänger: a new glass frog from Costa Rica

  1. americans are only ignorant of where Costa Rica is because we’ve not yet invaded it militarily nor is it a spring break drunken sex-orgy destination for underage college and high school kids.

    1. Well I checked — a conditioned response still in tact from my SJW days…

      José Figueres Ferrer wins a short civil war to become President of Costa Rica. Figueres is supported by the U.S., which has informed San José that its forces in the Panama Canal are ready to come to the capital to end “communist control” of Costa Rica.

      The U.S. Military Moves Into Costa Rica
      “a force of 7,000 troops, 200 helicopters, and 46 warships in an effort to eradicate drug trafficking”

      So, not quite an invasion, but enough military involvement to count as one, in an argument in a pub!

      (The other claim I shall not research!)

  2. A question going around my office: Is the transparency of the frog’s underside an example of cryptic or protective coloration? Is it adaptive?

    1. It probably gives them a less distinct shadow when seen through a leaf; this would definitely make them more cryptic as far as humans go (based on my limited rainforest frogging experience), but whether it is relevant to their normal predators is another matter.

  3. Three things:

    1. Cool. It really does look like Kermit to me.

    2. Was anyone else thrown a bit by the NBC News text – “Has translucent skin and eyes like Kermit”? I didn’t know Kermit had translucent skin.

    3. “Americans are notoriously ignorant about geography” – I’ve often wondered about this, after seeing some data on science surveys comparing general knowledge in various countries. Barring evolution and plate tectonics, which many U.S. people reject for religious reasons, the U.S. seems to be about the same as most other countries. I’ve never found comparable data for geography. Is the U.S. really that much worse, or is it bad everywhere, just like science? (Discussion of Science & Engineering indicators on my blog here)

    1. Well, one of the first Google results in a search ‘geographic knowledge internationally’ was this:

      It dates from 2002, but it’s very large and detailed (72 pages). And the US came near the bottom in identifying countries on a map (so did Canada and GB, by the way).

      Most other Google refs (the first page anyway) seem to refer back to this one. I’m surprised there’s nothing more recent.

  4. What does Diane G think of the name? I wish it were called “Diana’s cold-hearted frog”. That would be awesome.

    Frogs are so pretty – look at their pretty eyes – and glass frogs doubly so for their delicate appearance.

    1. I was thinking they named it after you & me. 😀 After all, it’s H. dianae. 🙂

      I think this is a particularly beautiful species, don’t you?

  5. I taught at one of the American Schools in Costa Rica about 30 years ago. A family member made my flight reservation to San Jose for the trip down. It occurred to me a few days later that my confidence in her geographic acumen was almost non-existent. I double-checked. Yup, I had reservations to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

    1. Somehow I am reminded of when the Sharks in the NHL were announced as an expansion team. I had a classmate who swore up and down for a few weeks that they meant San Jose in Costa Rica as the expansion, not the one in California.

  6. Thanks BIG TIME for this. A very timely post, especially as my neighbors from across the street are in Costa Rica at the moment. Their immediate peer group is loving it big time.

    For all you do…

  7. Dr Kubicki said that the amphibian sounds more like an insect than a frog, which may explain how experts missed it during their extensive survey.

    Hah! As if frogs all go ribbit and nothing else.

    I cannot take the “ribbit” stereotype seriously after seeing this segment of David Attenborough’s Life on Earth:

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