Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog
Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog discovered in New York City. Rutgers University

A new species of frog has been discovered living in New York City and its surrounding areas.

Rana kauffeldi, a species of leopard frog, has been confirmed by researchers from Rutgers University over 50 years after ideas of its existence were first dismissed.

Published in PLOS One, researchers found the frog lives in parts of New York City as well as to the north and south, along the coastal lowland that stretches from Connecticut to North Carolina.

The existence of the species was first suggested in 1937 by Carl Kauffeld, who worked as the director of Staten Island Zoo and the American Museum of Natural History. While initially recognised, his research was scrutinised and later dismissed because experts believed he had confused it with two other leopard frogs from the area.

Researcher Jeremy Feinberg said: "We had the benefits of genetic testing and bioacoustic analysis that simply weren't available to Kauffeld, to prove that even though this frog might look like the two other leopard frogs in the area, it was actually a third and completely separate species."

Rana Kauffeldi
The frog's existence was dismissed over 50 years ago. Feinberg et al.

The frog was first found by Feinberg six years ago near the Statue of Liberty. Using the new technology, the team examined the genetics and mating calls of the leopard frogs to positively identify Rana kauffeldi as a new species.

"After some discussion, we agreed that it just seemed right to name the species after Carl Kauffeld," Feinberg said. "We wanted to acknowledge his work and give credit where we believe it was due, even though it was nearly 80 years after the fact."

The frog will be commonly referred to as the Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog. It has green-grey skin with dark spots and an unusual and distinct 'chuck' call.

The team say it is remarkable that the new species remained undiscovered for so long.

Joanna Burger, Feinberg's advisor, said: "It is incredible and exciting that a new species of frog could be hiding in plain sight in New York City and existing from Connecticut to North Carolina.

"The process of recognising, identifying and documenting a new species is long and arduous but it is important for our understanding of the wide ranging wildlife in urban as well as other environments."