New Species Found in Ecuador

Scientists have found a handful of new species of creatures while working with Conservation International in Ecuador and Peru. The prime area of exploration, the Upper Nangaritza River Bain, is composed of remote mountains made up of forests, located in the Cordillera del Cor.

Along with an assortment of katydids, the Dendrobates poison arrow frog, the tiny “minute” Pristimantis frog, the Hyalinobatrachium glass frog, the Enyalioides lizard, and the “ugly salamander” are all potentially new species.

I showed my daughter the pictures, and while we both agreed that the “ugly salamander” is hideous, calling something ugly by name really isn’t a very nice thing to do. Even “appearance-challenged salamander” would have been better than flat out “ugly.”

The Enyalioides lizard is quite the opposite of ugly. With his multi-colored spots and striking spikes he resembles a reptile fireworks show. The katydids found, though still sort of creepy in their buggy, antenna’d way, were found in a variety of colors too.

Seeing as the frog population has been making headlines with its decline—and our family’s involvement with Frogwatch USA—we were particularly interested in the amphibians. The “minute” frog was our favorite of the new animals found. At only half an inch long (or less), this little guy is considered to be one of the smallest critters ever found in the Andes.

The glass frog is also pretty cool; you may have seen other frogs like it, where the internal organs are completely visible through the skin. We figure either one would make a fantastic pocket pet—or they would, if they weren’t so vulnerable.

Executive Director of Conservation International, Ecuador, Luis Suarez, says that it’s very important that the government of Ecuador, as well as the global community as a whole, protect these new species. “Now there are many threats from agriculture, logging and mining,” he explains.

Along with all these new (or potentially new; scientists will know after a little more research is conducted) species, other mammals and frogs who have never been seen in Ecuador before were also documented. 25 other rare species in the region, as well as 11 on the threatened list (or nearing it), were also seen.

New species discoveries are always so exciting. Remember how they thought that the giant squid, the “spirit bear,” okapi and many other animals were once dismissed as myth and were later proven real? Imagine what kinds of creatures are still out there, waiting to be proven—maybe the Lock Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and the chupacabra?