New frog species identified in Vietnam

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A Leptolalax botsfordi. Photo courtes of Jodi J. L. Rowley 

group of Vietnamese and Australian scientists found a new frog species in the upper montane forests of northwest Vietnam.

The frog was found on Mount Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina, on the scientists joint amphibian and reptile study on Lao Cai province bordering China.

Jodi J. L. Rowley at the Australian Museum Research Institute and School of Marine and Tropical Biology, Dau Quang Vinh of the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, and Nguyen Thien Tao of the Vietnam National Museum of Nature, described the new species of the genus Leptolalax in Zootaxa, a New Zealand-based zoological taxonomy journal, on November 21.

According to the Vietnam National Museum of Nature, the scientists discovered the new frog at an elevation of around 2,800 meters near the peak of 3,143 m-Mount Fansipan, a favorite place for climbers.

Fansipan, dubbed as "the Roof of Indochina," belongs to Hoang Lien National Park in the mountain range of the same name.

The amphibian was named Leptolalax botsfordi after Christopher Botsford, a scientist who has made great contributions to amphibian studies and conservation as well as helping to develop scientific capacities in Asia.

The new frog has a dark brownish red back and an abdomen with white speckling. Its toes have "rudimentary webbing and weak lateral fringing."

It does not have black markings on its flanks.

Tao said it is not easy to differentiate between a male and a female individual based on their sizes and color.

He said a male is 29.1-32.6 mm long while a female is 30-31.8 mm.

Vinh wrote in an article on Vietnam Forest Creatures, a Vietnamese biological website, that the animal was possibly very rare because it has only been seen in Hoang Lien National Park.

It is easily vulnerable to the impact of climate change and tourism activities, he said.

Leptolalax botsfordi is the 14th Leptolalax species recorded in Vietnam, and it inhabits at higher altitude than the other species in the genus.

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