Monday 29 May 2017

It's no lie -- rare 'Pinocchio' frog found in Asia

A long-nosed frog
A long-nosed frog

Randolph E Schmid in Washington

FINDING a new animal species is a special moment for scientists and even better when one hops into their mountain camp and volunteers to be discovered.

An international team of researchers was camping in the Foja Mountains of Indonesia when herpetologist Paul Oliver spied a frog sitting on a bag of rice in the campsite.

On closer look, it turned out to be a previously unknown type of long-nosed frog. The scientists dubbed it Pinocchio. When the frog is calling, its nose points upward, but it deflates when the animal is less active.

"We were sitting around eating lunch," recalled Smithsonian Institution ornithologist Chris Milensky. Oliver "looked down and there's this little frog on a rice sack, and he managed to grab the thing.

"Herpetologists (experts in snakes, lizards etc) have good reflexes," Mr Milensky observed. "He also caught a gecko; he managed to just jump and grab the thing" off a tree. And a long-nose frog is not all they found. Overcoming torrential rain and floods, the researchers report finding the smallest kangaroo yet, a big woolly rat, a three-toned pigeon and a gargoyle-like, bent-toed gecko with yellow eyes.

The Foja Mountains are in the western side of the island of New Guinea, a part of Indonesia that has been rarely visited by scientists.

Healthy

So the environmental group Conservation International (CI), with the support of the National Geographic Society and Smithsonian Institution, began investigating the area.

The results of their 2008 expedition were announced yesterday. Mr Milensky said the expedition was incredibly difficult. "It was extremely wet, heavy downpours every day," he said.

Places like these represented "a healthy future for all of us and show that it is not too late to stop the current species' extinction crisis", said CI's Bruce Beeheir.

Irish Independent

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