VIETNAM — The most recent of a slew of newly discovered species is a small amphibian researchers call the vampire flying frog. Learn why this frog has been given a name straight out of a horror film. — Global Animal
Sydney Morning Herald, Ben Cubby
It can’t fly and it doesn’t really suck blood, but that hasn’t stopped Australian researchers calling a newly discovered species the vampire flying frog.
Jodi Rowley, a biologist at the Australian Museum, found the mysterious frog while exploring an uncharted mountainous region of southern Vietnam.
The moniker comes from the fact that the tadpole of the species carries Dracula-like fangs. No one knows what they are for.
”As far as I know, a tadpole like this hasn’t been seen before,” Dr Rowley said. ”I didn’t notice anything strange about the tadpoles at all, until I looked at them under the microscope and saw these hard, black fangs.”
The fangs, described as ”keratinised hooks” in the journal entry on the species, may possibly be used for hunting or eating, though they seem to project too far outwards from the mouth to be much use for those activities. They could also be used as anchor points to help the tadpoles grip the sides of small ponds in tree holes where the frogs breed and live.
The adult frogs spend most of their lives in trees and sport unusual amounts of webbing between their digits, allowing them to glide from branch to branch in search of food.
Dr Rowley and a team found several frogs, which grow to 4.5 centimetres, excluding their springy legs, in the dank forests of the Langbian Plateau in southern Vietnam in 2008-10.