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Green-blooded, turquoise-boned species of frog discovered

Posted on: 19.12.08 (Last edited) 31 October 2010

FFI reveals four Cambodian ‘new to science’ frogs and publishes country’s first amphibian guide.

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has discovered a ‘new-to-science’ species of frog with green blood and turquoise-coloured bones in Cambodia’s remote Cardamom Mountains.

The Samkos bush frog’s strange-coloured bones and blood are caused by the pigment biliverdin, a waste product usually processed in the liver. In this species, the green biliverdin is passed back into the blood and is visible through the frog’s thin, translucent skin, making it even better camouflaged and possibly even causing it to taste unpalatable to predators.

The new frog is just one of four new frog species discovered by FFI in Cambodia, including the Cardamom bush frog, Smith’s frog, and the Aural horned frog. These species have only ever been seen in the peaks of the Cardamom Mountains. In fact, since beginning work in Cambodia in 2000, FFI has brought to light more than 40 species that had not been recorded in Cambodia before.

FFI consultant naturalist and photographer Jeremy Holden, who discovered the Samkos bush frog, said: ‘When I found the frog, I had a thrilling suspicion that we were looking at an entirely new species of amphibian. Photographing these frogs has been a challenge. They were extremely difficult to find, but thanks to their distinctive calls we managed to get some excellent shots and record them for posterity.’

FFI’s Senior Conservation Biologist, Jenny Daltry, was the first scientist to discover Smith’s frog: ‘Finding a new species is always exciting, but really it’s just the start of many more questions. What sort of habitat does it need? How does it reproduce? Is it endangered?

‘There is no doubt in my mind that there are new species waiting to be discovered in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains. FFI will continue to carry out surveys and strive to protect this incredibly rich and diverse area”.

FFI has also published Cambodia’s first field guide to amphibians in October. “A Field Guide to the Amphibians of Cambodia” contains stunning photographs of each species and represents the culmination of eight years of field research by Jeremy Holden and Cambodian herpetologist Neang Thy, who has worked with FFI since 2004. Its publication is particularly timely, given the serious threats facing amphibians around the world which led to 2008 being named the “Year of the Frog”.

Written by
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Rebecca Foges

Rebecca has been working at FFI since September 2007. Though she studied conservation in her BA and MSc, she decided that the life in the jungle just wasn't for her. Having grown up in New York City, she has experienced more pigeons and squirrels than parrots and spider monkeys. So she decided to write about the impact that FFI's projects have on the ground. Her current role as Communications Officer (Business & Biodiversity) has allowed her to focus her energy towards FFI's innovative Business & Biodiversity Programme. Rebecca helps to get the message out about FFI's strategic corporate partnerships and what they have helped to achieve for global biodiversity.

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‘There is no doubt in my mind that there are new species waiting to be discovered in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains. FFI will continue to carry out surveys and strive to protect this incredibly rich and diverse area".

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