Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Berlin scientists discover new frog family in West Africa

04.02.2014
In Africa morphologically very similar frogs live along fast flowing rainforest rivers and at waterfalls, the Torrent Frogs.

While studying the phylogeny of these frogs, scientists from the Berlin Natural History Museum and their colleagues from Switzerland came across a scientific sensation.


Odontobatrachus natator: one species of the new frog family
Photo: Mark-Oliver Rödel


Scan of the skull: the unusual teeth are one unique anatomic character of the new frog family
Scan: Michael F. Barej

The West African species apparently were not closer related to the other African species. In fact they represent a family already separated from other frog groups since the Cretaceous, the time when dinosaurs dominated life on Earth.

Many new frog species are still discovered and scientifically described each year, in particular from the tropics. Usually not much is known about the biology and phylogeny of these species.

However, the distribution and relatedness of species may deliver important insights to scientist concerning the history of our planet, such as e.g. climate change and the evolution of particular ecosystems. Therefore scientists from the Berlin Museum of Natural History, with their colleagues from Switzerland, aimed at uncovering the phylogeny of African torrent frogs.

These morphologically very similar frogs are specialized on rapidly flowing rainforest streams and waterfalls in West, Central and East Africa. The researchers applied genetic and anatomic methods in their study and were thrilled when they discovered that the West African species apparently were not at all related to the species from the other areas.

Whereas the discovery of new frog species is not unusual, even the identification of a new genus is already very rare. Thus Michael Barej, the first author of the study, stated, that to him it was like “hitting the jackpot. I needed to cool down when we discovered that we might have discovered a new frog family. It felt simply too unreal.”

However, the scientists could indeed show that the West African torrent frogs split from other frogs already in the Cretaceous, the time of dinosaurs. Apart from genetic differences and with the aid of computer tomography Michael Barej and his colleagues also discovered various unique anatomic characters.

Consequently they erected a new frog family, the Odontobatrachidae, for these West African frogs, just published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Zoology. The scientific name of the new family stems from the Greek words for tooth and frog, and is based on an anatomic uniqueness.

The frogs of the new family are characterized by long and bent teeth in the upper jaw and massive fangs in the lower jaw, a very unusual setting for frogs. It is not yet clear what these teeth are used for. Maybe the frogs feed on other frogs, as it might be indicated by the discovery of a small frog skeleton in the stomach of one of the larger individuals.

The discovery of this new frog family is also of importance to the conservation of tropical biodiversity. The “tooth frogs” only occur in small forest remnants in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ivory Coast. Mark-Oliver Rödel from the Berlin Museum of Natural History emphasizes that this discovery further underlines the uniqueness of the West African biodiversity hotspot and he hopes that the new family may be helpful in future efforts to protect these forests, not only for frogs.

The publication „Barej, M.F., A. Schmitz, R. Günther, S.P. Loader, K. Mahlow & M.-O. Rödel (2014): The first endemic West African vertebrate family – a new anuran family highlighting the uniqueness of the Upper Guinean biodiversity hotspot. – Frontiers in Zoology 11:8 doi:10.1186/1742-9994-11-8” is freely accessible at http://www.frontiersinzoology.com/content/pdf/1742-9994-11-8.pdf

Dr. Gesine Steiner | idw
Further information:
http://www.naturkundemuseum-berlin.de/en

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fish Oil-Diet Benefits May be Mediated by Gut Microbes
28.08.2015 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht Bio-fabrication of Artificial Blood Vessels with Laser Light
28.08.2015 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: OU astrophysicist and collaborators find supermassive black holes in quasar nearest Earth

A University of Oklahoma astrophysicist and his Chinese collaborator have found two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth, using observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

The discovery of two supermassive black holes--one larger one and a second, smaller one--are evidence of a binary black hole and suggests that supermassive...

Im Focus: What would a tsunami in the Mediterranean look like?

A team of European researchers have developed a model to simulate the impact of tsunamis generated by earthquakes and applied it to the Eastern Mediterranean. The results show how tsunami waves could hit and inundate coastal areas in southern Italy and Greece. The study is published today (27 August) in Ocean Science, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

Though not as frequent as in the Pacific and Indian oceans, tsunamis also occur in the Mediterranean, mainly due to earthquakes generated when the African...

Im Focus: Self-healing landscape: landslides after earthquake

In mountainous regions earthquakes often cause strong landslides, which can be exacerbated by heavy rain. However, after an initial increase, the frequency of these mass wasting events, often enormous and dangerous, declines, in fact independently of meteorological events and aftershocks.

These new findings are presented by a German-Franco-Japanese team of geoscientists in the current issue of the journal Geology, under the lead of the GFZ...

Im Focus: FIC Proteins Send Bacteria Into Hibernation

Bacteria do not cease to amaze us with their survival strategies. A research team from the University of Basel's Biozentrum has now discovered how bacteria enter a sleep mode using a so-called FIC toxin. In the current issue of “Cell Reports”, the scientists describe the mechanism of action and also explain why their discovery provides new insights into the evolution of pathogens.

For many poisons there are antidotes which neutralize their toxic effect. Toxin-antitoxin systems in bacteria work in a similar manner: As long as a cell...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer IPA develops prototype of intelligent care cart

It comes when called, bringing care utensils with it and recording how they are used: Fraunhofer IPA is developing an intelligent care cart that provides care staff with physical and informational support in their day-to-day work. The scientists at Fraunhofer IPA have now completed a first prototype. In doing so, they are continuing in their efforts to improve working conditions in the care sector and are developing solutions designed to address the challenges of demographic change.

Technical assistance systems can improve the difficult working conditions in residential nursing homes and hospitals by helping the staff in their work and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Networking conference in Heidelberg for outstanding mathematicians and computer scientists

20.08.2015 | Event News

Scientists meet in Münster for the world’s largest Chitin und Chitosan Conference

20.08.2015 | Event News

Large agribusiness management strategies

19.08.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Interstellar seeds could create oases of life

28.08.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

An ounce of prevention: Research advances on 'scourge' of transplant wards

28.08.2015 | Health and Medicine

Fish Oil-Diet Benefits May be Mediated by Gut Microbes

28.08.2015 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>