Green-blooded, turquoise-boned species of frog discovered

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”.