Researchers Discover New Earless Toad Species In Angola

August 10, 2018

Researchers from Angola, the United States and Portugal have discovered a new earless pygmy toad species living in the Serra da Neve, the second highest peak in Angola. 

African pygmy toad, Poyntonophrynus pachnodes

Dr. Ishan Agarwal

Poyntonophrynus pachnodes is small, at just 31 mm in length and is a brownish copper in coloration.

The African pygmy toad, Poyntonophrynus pachnodes, is named pachnodes, Greek langufor frosty, which is a direct reference to the the name of the mountain, "Mountain of Snow" in Portuguese, in which the toad was found. The toad was found at high elevations, 1,500 meters (5000 feet) above sea level, where the temperatures are very cool. 

Toads Of The United States

The team of researchers conducted DNA sequencing and resolution computed tomography scanning to study the internal structures of the toad as well as to document the extent of the ear loss in the species. They found that while Poyntonophrynus pachnodes is closely related to other pygmy toads, this toad does not have internal or external ear parts that give other toads and frogs the capability to hear. The researchers say that this species recently evolved from  an ancestor who had a completely formed and functioning ear. 

With the addition of Poyntonophrynus pachnodes, the region is home to five pygmy toad species. It is small, at just 31 mm in length and is a brownish copper in coloration. It lives in dry open forest of the Serra da Neve, amongst the rocks and leaves. The researchers are unaware if the toad has a mating call. The discovery in the Serra da Neve highlights the area as important to Angolan biodiversity.

The complete research paper, "A new earless species of Poyntonophrynus (Anura, Bufonidae) from the Serra da Neve Inselberg, Namibe Province, Angola" can be read on the open access Zookeys website

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