Shape-shifting frog
A picture illustrating how the frog can change textureZOOLOGICAL JOURNAL OF THE LINNEAN SOCIETY

A shape-shifting frog that bears more similarities to a character from Marvel's X-Men has been discovered by students at Case Western Reserve University.

The frog, a pristimantis sobetes, was discovered in the Andes and possesses the unique ability to mimic the surface it is sitting on and can change the texture of its skin within minutes.

While the species was already known, it is thought to be the first instance an amphibian has displayed the ability to mimic its environment. It bears a similarity to shape-shifting X-Men character Mystique, played in the film adaptations of the popular comic book by actress Jennifer Lawrence, a mutant who can mimic the appearance and voice of people.

Mystique in X Men
Mystique is a shape shifter from Marvel comic X-MenMarvel

The species were discovered by couple Katherine and Tim Krynak while on a visit to a nature reserve called Reserva Las Gralarias in north-central Ecuador's Andean forest.

When Katherine picked up the frog, she realised it had spikes on it but they appeared to disappear after it spent time in a container.

"I then put the frog back in the cup and added some moss. The spines came back... we simply couldn't believe our eyes, our frog changed skin texture! I put the frog back on the smooth white background. Its skin became smooth," she told Newsweek.

"The spines and coloration help them blend into mossy habitats, making it hard for us to see them, but whether the texture really helps them elude predators still needs to be tested."

Researchers are planning to continue investigations into the mutable frogs in the reserve.