New Species Of Diamond Frog From Northern Madagascar Discovered And Described

Rhombophryne ellae is unique in that its hind limbs have orange flash markings.
Rhombophryne Ellae
Rhombophryne ellae was discovered in Madagascar. Photo by Dr. Mark D. Scherz

German researcher Dr. Mark D. Scherz has described a new species of diamond frog of the genus Rhombophryne that was found in the Montagne d’Ambre National Park in northern Madagascar.

The frog, Rhombophryne ellae sp. nov. is unique in that its hind limb have orange flash markings with two, large black inguinal spots just above the thigh that eerily resembles a pair of eyes.

Rhombophryne Ellae

The holotype of Rhombophryne ellae sp. nov. in life. a. In dorsolateral view; b. In dorsal view; c. In ventral view; d. In posterior view showing the orange flash-markings on the thighs and the distinctive inguinal spots; e. On leaf litter. Photo by Mark D. Scherz.

“As soon as I saw this frog, I knew it was a new species,” Scherz said in a statement announcing the new species. “The orange flash-markings on the legs and the large black spots on the hip made it immediately obvious to me. During my Master’s and PhD research, I studied this genus and described several species, and there are no described species with such orange legs, and only few species have these black markings on the hip. It’s rare that we find a frog and are immediately able to recognise that it is a new species without having to wait for the DNA sequence results to come back, so this was elating.”

Madagascar Biodiversity

Madagascar is a biological hotspot for reptiles and amphibians. It is home to one of the smallest chameleons in the world, a leaf chameleon called Brookesia micra, which can crawl on your fingernails, as well as amphibians, turtles and tortoises, boa constrictors and colubrid snakes.

“The discovery of such a distinctive species within a comparatively well-studied park points towards the gaps in our knowledge of the amphibians of the tropics,” Scherz said. “It also highlights the role that bad weather, especially cyclones, can play in bringing otherwise hidden frogs out of hiding–Rhombophryne ellae was caught just as Cyclone Ava was moving in on Madagascar, and several other species my colleagues and I have recently described were also caught under similar cyclonic conditions.”

Scherz described the new species from a single specimen collected, but based on other related frogs in the area, it is possible that it will be Red-listed as Near Threatened.

Categories: Frog & Amphibians Information & News