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New frog species has males in primary care of the tadpoles

November 11, 2021 7:00PM Kids News

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The new frog species discovered in Wollumbin National Park in northern NSW is one of only four species where tadpoles are carried on the body of the males. Picture: Stephen Mahony media_cameraThe new frog species discovered in Wollumbin National Park in northern NSW is one of only four species where tadpoles are carried on the body of the males. Picture: Stephen Mahony

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A new frog species has been discovered in northern NSW and is one of only two known species that stores tadpoles on its body.

The tiny frog measures just 16mm and is found on a mountain in the Wollumbin National Park.

It was recently identified by researchers from the University of Newcastle and the South Australian Museum who used genetic* tests to distinguish it from another frog, a close relative called Assa darlingtoni.

The frogs are commonly called “pouched” or “hip pocket” frogs because the males store developing tadpoles in pouches on the side of their body before little frogs emerge two to three months later.

media_cameraThe new frog species was discovered in Wollumbin National Park in northern NSW and has been named Assa wollumbin. Picture: Stephen Mahony

“The hip pocket frog is not only unique for its amazing breeding biology among Australian frogs, but it is also unique among frogs of the world,” said Professor Michael Mahony from the University of Newcastle.

“There are only four of the 4000 species worldwide that have male parental care where the male carries its developing tadpoles.”

The small population of the new frog, which has been named Assa wollumbin, is confined to about 2000ha on Mount Warning, within the Gondwana Rainforests World Heritage Area.

media_cameraThe small frog population is confined to about 2000ha on Mount Warning, within the Gondwana Rainforests World Heritage Area.

Professor Mahony, one of the researchers who discovered the frog, said it was found while researchers were examining frogs from five isolated areas from southeast Queensland to Dorrigo in northern NSW, where pouched frogs were known to live.

Genetic tests confirmed it was a unique species.

The discovery, reported in the scientific journal Zootaxa, has prompted the NSW government to protect the tiny amphibian* by declaring its habitat* significant under the National Parks and Wildlife Act.

media_cameraThe new species of hip pocket frog known as the Assa wollumbin, named after the forest where it was discovered, measures just 16mm.

“This incredible discovery shows just how much we don’t know about the world around us, with this tiny 16mm frog found on just one isolated mountain in the Wollumbin National Park,” said NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean.

“The small population size makes this frog more vulnerable* to the impacts of climate change, which is why the NSW Government moved quickly to protect its habitat within days of being formally described.”

A conservation action plan will be developed to ensure the survival of the species, which has been living undiscovered high in the cool forest.

The research also revealed the new species will likely meet the criteria for listing as critically endangered* due to its specific habitat needs and the small area in which it is found.

GLOSSARY

  • genetic: related to genes, heredity and DNA in cells of each animal and plant
  • amphibian: animal that lives both on land and in water, like frogs and turtles
  • habitat: natural home or environment of animals plants and other organisms
  • vulnerable: in need of special care, support, protection because of the risk of harm
  • critically endangered: facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. Why are the frogs known as “pouch” or “hip pocket” frogs?
  2. How big are they?
  3. Where is the small population of frogs confined?
  4. The discovery prompted the NSW government to take what action?
  5. What will be developed to ensure the survival of the species?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Hip pocket frog trading card
Create a small trading card (think Pokemon, Football cards etc) on the hip pocket frog. Your trading card should contain a picture and information about this new species of frog. Make your card bright, informative and interesting to read.

Share your trading card with some of your classmates.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science; the Arts

2. Extension
Can you name any other species that you know of that relies on male parental care? Why is this so unique?

Research other animals that rely on male care and choose the one that interests you most to write three facts about.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science

VCOP ACTIVITY
Tiny new frog
There are many cool things about these amazing little amphibians, but what really captured our attention was the size of the frog: 16mm! That’s about the size of an adult’s thumbnail. Imagine being that small.

Have a look at the world around you right now. Imagine being 16mm tall in this space. Go on an adventure in your space as if you were the size of the tiny frog. You may decide to keep some frog abilities on your adventure (jumps far, sticky feet, good swimmer), or you can just be you.

What would you do? Where would you go? What is a problem that could occur? And how will you solve it?

When you have finished, re-read your story to check it makes sense and you have made good VCOP choices to enhance your writer’s voice.

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