In the summer of 2018, the New York Post Association of Graduates in Abu Dhabi Sandra Guate and Jacob Reyes-Velasco explored an isolated mountain in southwest Ethiopia where some of the last primary forests in the country remain. Bibita Mountain has been under the radar of the team for several years due to isolation, and because no other zoologist has ever explored it before.
"Unsolicited, isolated and unexplored: he had all the elements to make our interest," says Dr. Reyes-Velasco, who initiated the study of the mountain. "We tried to get to Bibita in a previous expedition in 2016 without success. Last summer we used a different route that brought us to a higher altitude, "he added.
Their document, published in ZooKeys newspaper, reports that the new, small frog, 17 mm for men and 20 mm for women, is unique among Ethiopian frogs-puddles. Among other morphological features, a thin body with long legs, extended toes and fingers and golden coloration, put this frog in addition to its closest relatives. "When we looked at the frogs, it was obvious that we found a new look, they look so different from all the Ethiopian species we've seen before!", Explains Dr. Goutte.
Back in New York University Abu Dhabi, the research team arranged the tissue samples of the new species and discovered it Phrynobatrachus bibita sp. November is genetically different from all kinds of frogs in the region.
"Finding such a genetically different species for only a few days in this mountain is the perfect proof of how important it is to assess the biodiversity of this type of habitat. Bibita Mountain probably has much more unknown species that await our discovery; it is essential for biologists to find them in order to protect them properly, "explains Abu Dhabi, head of biology at the University of New York, and leading investigator Stéphane Boissinot, working on Ethiopian frogs since 2010.