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Thursday, May 24, 2007

New Frog Species

A new species of mountain frog that changes colour in response to its surroundings has been discovered in northeast Thailand, a biologist said Wednesday.

The Odorrana aureola, known locally as the Phu Luang Cliff frog after the national park where it was found, can grow to 80 millimeters (3.5 inches) and has a green body which occasionally turns brown, researchers said.

"It reflects its surrounds," said Tanya Chan-ard, curator of Bangkok's National Science Museum, who studied the frog with a team of government biologists and researchers.

Tanya told AFP it was the world's newest species of mountain frog, and was found only in Phu Luang National Park, which covers parts of the three mountainous northeastern Thai provinces.

The frog can only be found at waterfalls and creeks between 1,000 and 1,500 metres (3,300 and 4,900 feet) above sea level, he added.

"We found the frog quite some time ago but we began seriously studying it at the DNA level last year," said Tanya, who presented his findings at a seminar in Bangkok on Tuesday.

The team's findings were confirmed by US-based experts with the natural history journal Fieldiana last year, he added.

Researchers do not know how many of the Odorrana aureola are in the Thai wild, but Tanya said there were probably not very many as they did not breed very often - AFP.