Pablo Venegas Discovers New Frog in the Kañaris forest in Peru.


RP Team

May 8, 2024

In 2007, Rainforest Partnership's resident Herpatologist, Pablo Venegas, returned to a favorite location, the Kañaris forest in Peru.

While there was much new deforestation, he noticed that the freshly cut trees were full of bromeliads (a plant native to tropical and subtropical America), and quickly realized that tiny frogs were hiding among the bromeliad leaves! He suspected they might be new to science, so he collected some specimens for study and took them to the scientific collection at CORBIDI (a national scientific institution in Peru) for identification.

These frogs resembled a species from Ecuador known as Pristimantis phoxocephalus, and they were initially identified as such by the famous herpetologist William E. Duellman. However, advancements in molecular systematics later revealed that these frogs were not P. phoxocephalus, but a new species!

Armed with new proof that there were still species no one has discovered living in the Kañaris forest, he worked with the team at Rainforest Partnership and organized a comprehensive expedition to Kañaris, with funding from the Holoman Price Foundation. During this trip, they had the incredible opportunity to discover other species new to science. while simultaneously witnessing the deterioration of the remaining relict forests in the area.

There is an urgent need to focus on the unknown amphibian and reptile species inhabiting this area, and draw attention to the protection of the last remnants of the Kañaris forest, as most of these frogs are endemic to this region. Without Pablo's discoveries, these species would likely have faced extinction without ever being documented, robbing us of the chance to recognize their existence and understand their role in the ecosystem.

The newest species discovered was named Pristimantis rameshpateli, sponsored by the family in honor of Rainforest Partnership CEO Niyanta Spelman's father. Interestingly, while comparing specimens in the museum to properly characterize P. rameshpateli, they discovered another similar new species of Pristimantis, which they named P. yanahampatu.


Cover May 2024 Issue

May 2, 2024

Description of two new species of Pristimantis (Anura: Strabomantidae) from northern Peru, previously confused with P. phoxocephalus Lynch 1979
Creators Venegas, Pablo J. - García-Ayachi, Luis A. - Barboza, Andy C. - Catenazzi, Alessandro

Abstract: Based on morphological and previously published molecular evidence, herein we describe two new species of Pristimantis from the Andes of northern Peru; Pristimantis sp. nov. 1 from Cañaris in the northern region of the Cordillera Occidental of the Andes, at an elevation of 3200 m.a.s.l., Lambayeque Department, northwestern Peru, and Pristimantis sp. nov. 2 from the Huarmicocha to Cochabamba trail in the northern region of the Cordillera Central, at an elevation of 3376 m.a.s.l., Amazonas Department, northeastern Peru. Both new species are morphologically similar to and were previously confused with Pristimantis phoxocephalus, because they shared (i) the presence of a pointed rostral papilla, (ii) acutely or acuminated shaped snout in dorsal view, and (iii) in life, distinctive coloration on groin and concealed surfaces of thighs. However, the new species are not closely related to species from the P. phoxocephalus group and can be readily diagnosed from morphologically similar Pristimantis from Peru and Ecuador by the combination of the following characters: snout shape, tuberculate or coarsely tuberculate dorsum, and the color of concealed surfaces of thighs and groin.

Technical info
The research was funded by Rain Forest Partnership through the Hollomon Price Foundation. We are indebted to Lourdes Y. Echevarria for sharing her field notes and photographs of Pristimantis yanahampatu and its habitat. Moreover, a special thanks to Marco Salas and Juaquin Briones for their logistic support in the field. The field work in Amazonas Department was funded by the NGO Ucumari.

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