It may seem like an unlikely place to find a new species, but scientists have identified a frog not previously described by science in the very heart of the most populous city in the United States — New York City. Though similar to the leopard frog in appearance, the new species has a discrete croak and a distinct genetic makeup, reports Discovery.
"The discovery of a new frog species from the urban Northeast is truly remarkable and completes a journey that began six years ago with a simple frog call in the wilds of New York City," said researcher Jeremy Feinberg from Rutgers University.
Feinberg, who is an expert in frog calls, first caught wind of the new species while wandering New York City. "What the heck is that?" he recalled asking himself six years ago when he first heard the short, repetitive croak. The local leopard frog usually sounds more like a long snore or a throaty laugh.
Feinberg's research team managed to trace the call to what appeared to be a leopard frog, a beautiful species characterized by its leopard-print spots. But DNA analysis later revealed what the frog's croak had hinted at: This was no typical leopard frog. Rather, it was a related, though very distinct species.
The new species has been given the scientific name of Rana kauffeldi, and it is described in the journal PLOS ONE.
Researchers suspect that New York City is not the exclusive habitat of the new species. It probably also dwells in coastal lowland regions from Connecticut to northeastern North Carolina. But the fact that it has managed to make a home in a city as large and bustling as New York City without anyone noticing before is particularly surprising. The frog favors "open-canopied wetlands interspersed with upland patches," but is apparently also fond of muddy city puddles. It also appears to be a Yankees fan. Several were located hanging out around Yankee Stadium.
The fact that it has survived in the city shows how adaptable this frog must be, but scientists fear that the newly-discovered species is probably threatened with habitat loss. It is nevertheless a reminder that new species can truly be found anywhere. Even in the heart of New York City, there are natural secrets waiting to be uncovered.
You can view a short video offering information about the new species here:
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