Scientists have found a new species of leopard frog in the concrete jungles of New York.
Scientists for years believed that the frog was the more commonly found leopard frog. Scientists from Rutgers University, UCLA, UC Davis and the University of Alabama used nuclear DNA data to compare the new frog discovered to all other leopard frog species in the region and determined that it is an entirely new species.
It was an unexpected discovery for guest researcher Jeremy Feinberg from Rutgers University in New Jersey, who noticed for the first time that the croak of the frog was sounding different than what he had heard before. Instead of the "long snore" or "rapid chuckle" he heard from other leopard frogs, this frog had a short, repetitive croak, according to a statement.
"When I first heard these frogs calling, it was so different, I knew something was very off," Feinberg said.
"It is very surprising for a new species like this to have been unrecognised in this area until now," he added.
Feinberg said that these frogs are like cryptic species where one species cannot be differentiated from the another by just looking.
"Their naturally limited range coupled with recent unexplained disappearances from places like Long Island underscores the importance of this discovery and the value that conservation efforts might have in the long-term survival of this urban species," he added.
Researchers believe that the new frog species were the ones that completely disappeared from Long Island and other parts of the area over the last few decades.
The newly identified frogs have so far been found in northern New Jersey, southeastern mainland New York, and on Staten Island. They may even extend into parts of Connecticut and extreme northeastern Pennsylvania.
The study has been published online in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.