I’m not a big fan of frogs. I know they have their place in the ecosystem, but I still think they’re gross and slimy looking (apologies to Kermit). Still … the fact that a new species (as yet unnamed) of frog has been found in and around New York City is amazing!
The frog, temporarily called the Rana (meaning “new frog species”), is a variety of leopard frog that lives in the ponds and marshes of Staten Island, mainland New York, and New Jersey. At first you may think that it’s easy to overlook a frog because they live in out-of-the-way places and are pretty anonymous to most of us. But Professor Brad Shaffer of UCLA said, “Many amphibians are secretive and can be very hard to find, but these frogs are pretty obvious, out-there animals.”
He’s referring to the fact these frogs croak in a distinctive way that is very different from its leopard frog cousins. They don’t have the “long snore” or a “rapid chuckle” typical of leopard frogs. Some biologists thought this frog might be a hybrid of two known species intermingling. But that’s not the case.
Evolutionary biologist, Cathy Newman, who was working on her master’s at the University of Alabama, worked to identify the new species. They checked its mitochondrial DNA first then did a broader full DNA analysis. She said, “If I had one of those three leopard frogs in my hands, unless I knew what area it was from, I wouldn’t know which kind I was holding because they all look so similar. But all of our results showed this one lineage is very clearly genetically distinct.”
Professor Shaffer explained that, “ … even in densely populated, well-studied areas, there are still new discoveries to be made.” All the scientists agreed that the next aspect to consider is whether this frog is endangered and in need of conservation.
We can leave that to them to decide. My point, here in Cryptoville, is this. They are finding species of animals all over the place fairly regularly. That gives me hope that the larger cryptids that we love to debate over and discuss still have a fighting chance of being officially discovered by Western science.
Granted, a little frog is easier to hide than say a 9 foot Bigfoot, but if we put that little frog in the middle of the pavement, he’d stick out very clearly. Because he was hidden so well in his environment, he eluded identification for years.
It’s the same with these other cryptids, if they do truly exist. They are so well suited to their terrain, we’re not just going to take a walk through a forest and find one. It takes patience, dedication, and a love for discovery to find and identify these animals sufficiently so that Western science will acknowledge them once and for all.
Til the next time!