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‘Robust’ color-changing creature lays its eggs in foamy nests. See the new species

A group of green-skinned creatures gathered at the edges of a pond-like body of water on a mountain in China. They began calling out, in search of a mate.

Little did the creatures know: They were being watched.

Researchers were exploring Mopan Mountain in Yunnan, searching for tree frogs. That’s where they collected nine frogs that looked like a known species, according to a study published Feb. 20 in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.

After taking a closer look, the scientists realized the nine frogs they found were actually a new species.


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Known as Zhangixalus yunnanensis, or the Yunnan tree frog, the new species was distinguished by other, similar species by its skin color, eye color, body size and its DNA, experts said. They named the species after the location where it was found.

Photos show the bright green creatures with “yellowish brown” eyes.

The tree frogs are named after the region in China where they live, experts said.
The tree frogs are named after the region in China where they live, experts said.

Yunnan tree frogs are “medium” sized, scientists said. The seven male specimens they examined ranged in size from about 1.2 inches to about 1.4 inches. The two female specimens measured about 1.9 inches.

Researchers said the frogs have “robust” bodies and “rounded” snouts. Their back and throat skin is smooth, but their chest, belly and the fronts of their thighs are rough, and they have some warts near their anus.

The new species has “yellowish brown” irises, researchers said.
The new species has “yellowish brown” irises, researchers said.

The creatures have green skin, and they can have black blotches on their sides and their back limbs, according to experts. Their throats are black. At night, the frogs’ skin becomes lighter than during the day.

The creatures lay their eggs “in white foam nests” near pools, according to scientists.
The creatures lay their eggs “in white foam nests” near pools, according to scientists.

The new species breeds between April and July, scientists said. During this time, males gather around permanent pools where they share their mating calls. Females then lay eggs “in white foam nests deposited in mud near the pool.”

Yunnan is a province in southwestern China.

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