The frog that 20 million New Yorkers failed to spot

A team of scientists of Rutgers University, the University of California (LA & Davis) and the University of Alabama has today announced the discovery of a thus far undocumented species of frog.

Although in face of the worldwide amphibian decline such is of course always welcome ecology news, it is hardly a shocker [2009 alone, 133 new frog species discovered]. You were saying Papua New Guinea right? Or the Amazon?

New frog discovered in New York
It lives in marshes and ponds of New York’s Staten Island – and can also be found in New Jersey. It doesn’t even wear urban camouflage. In case you were wondering: no the frog in the above picture is not a regular leopard frog. Genetic analysis shows it to be distinctly different – and leaves the New York frog unnamed for the time being.

No, indeed they are not. In their publication in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution the researchers write the frog can actually be found in the skyscraper landscapes of New York and New Jersey.

Finding a healthy leopard frog subspecies in an urban environment is good news for another reason. Most of the frogs are susceptible to environmental pollutants and their presence may therefore be regarded as indicators of having relatively clean water nearby.

We do wonder though: how many New York classrooms have gone about dissecting this unknown frog? Please stop that practice will you? Let’s say you kids and teachers have had your chance – and failed the test. If you can’t even make out what exactly you are tearing apart it clearly serves no scientific purpose.

© Rolf Schuttenhelm |

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