New species of high-altitude Andean frog discovered in Colombia

Pristimantis macrummendozai
Pristimantis macrummendozai

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith the second richest biodiversity on the planet, Colombia is already home to some 800 amphibians, and this month another joins the extended family of cold-blooded creatures. Meet Pristimantis macrummendozai.

Scientists from the Humboldt Institute are basking in their lastest discovery of a rare wetland frog, which feels at home 3,500 metres above sea level and has adapted to the moors of the Boyacá department.

The Pristimantis was discovered in rocky outcrops of the Iguaque Merchan nature reserve, north of the town of Arcabuco.

The “Pristi” is not considered to be endangered, and has adapted to the nooks and crannies of our páramos due to reduced forelimbs. Unlike other members of our megafauna, this creature enjoys humidity so much that it reproduces well in cold aquatic environments and now joins nine other high-altitude “rain frogs” documented along Colombia’s Eastern Cordillera mountain range. One of its most striking features: big yellow eyebrows!

The high-altitude habitat of the frog encompasses the wetland páramos of Chingaza, Santurbán, Almorzadero, Guantiva, Tota, Mapamacha, Pisba and Sumapaz.

In Colombia, frogs are generally not common croakers. The country runs the gamut from the extremely “cute” to the extremely “cute and poisonous.” And with so much topographical diversity, from rainforests to savannah to Andean wetlands, it is well known that Colombia is a frog-lovers paradise.

Unless, you happen to touch a Phyllobates terribilis or “golden dart frog” — the most poisonous in the world, and found in the jungles of the Chocó department.

According to Andrés Acosta of the Biological Collection of the Humboldt Institute, the discovery of “Pristi” is encouraging as “the country still offers plenty of fieldwork in areas where there are scientific gaps” such as the Andean moors, and the equivalent, to this biologist, of “geographical islands.”


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