Lonely Planet Writer

US research team identifies three new species of frog in the Peruvian Andes

Anybody fortunate enough to be travelling or hiking in the Andes Mountains this summer might be lucky enough to come across three of the most recently discovered species in the world. Three new never identified before frogs have been found in the remote Pui Pui forest in central Peru, bringing to five the number of new species found by a research group there since 2012.

A hill dweller rubber frog found in the Andes by a US research team
Hill Dweller Rubber Frog. Photo courtesy of Rudolf von May, University of Michigan

The tiny frogs – each no more than an inch long – were discovered in mountain forests and Andean grasslands miles above sea level during surveys. Rudolf von May of the University of Michigan said: “Our team has now described five new species of frogs from this region, with several more to come in the near future. While the Pui Pui Protected Forest was established in 1985, virtually no biological surveys were conducted in the park for nearly three decades, and the potential for additional discoveries is enormous.”

Humboldt rubber frog discovered in the Andean rainforest
Humboldt Rubber Frog. Photo courtesy of Rudolf von May, University of Michigan

The tiny frogs are very different to the ones most people are familiar with, as they do not lay their eggs in water and their young never become independent tadpoles. Instead they hatch directly into froglets, which means the species can survive a range of different habitats.

Pui Pui rubber frog found in the Andean Mountains
Pui Pui Rubber Frog. Photo courtesy of Rudolf von May, University of Michigan

The three frogs have all been given individual names. The first is the Pui Pui Rubber Frog, named after the protected forest in which it lives, with the Quecha words pui pui meaning “eyes of water”. The second is the Hill Dweller Rubber Frog, which was found at two separate sites, both over 3500 metres above sea level. Last but not least is the Humboldt’s Rubber Frog, found at a single site 10,686 feet in elevation and named after the famous German explorer Alexander von Humboldt. Future papers by the research group are set to identify another five newly discovered species: another three new frogs and two lizards.

The Pui Pui Protected Forest covers around 150,000 acres and includes dozens of lakes and streams that feed rivers in the upper reaches of the Amazon watershed. The land, around 70% grassland and the remainder cloud forest, houses a multitude of unique species found nowhere else on earth.

If you want to learn more about the research work in the Andes, this video explains some of the challenges the scientists faced: