Germán Chávez is no stranger to the Amazon rain forest, where he says “one can’t help but get excited” by all the reptiles and amphibians that he has made a career out of studying. But when he came across one frog, all he could think was “Bloody hell!”
It all happened when he went to the Amazon lowlands in central Peru with fellow researcher Wilmar Aznaran. The area is frequented often, he said, which made them both “quite surprised and kind of speechless” when they came across a new frog species, which he said in a blog post is “clearly different from any other similar species.”
“That was evident for us at the very moment we caught it,” he said. “…We could not believe that a medium-sized arboreal frog had passed in front of other researchers’ eyes, and remained unseen.”
They soon realized the frog before them “is not a common species in the area.” They were only able to find two of the frogs, even after going back to the site a few months after the original encounter.
“At that point, we knew that we had a new species on our hands, but describing it with only two specimens was challenging,” Chávez said in his blog post.
Eventually, they got some other team members on board so they could further conduct their study, published in Evolutionary Systematics earlier this month. They found the frogs have orange patterns on their groins, thighs and shanks that “resembles flames,” Chávez said – just “like those threatening its habitat.” This led to the determination of its name, Scinax pyroinguinis, which translates to “groins of fire.”
Wildfires are a “serious threat” to their habitat, as the flames continue to threaten the Amazon rainforest at large.
In September, the rainforest had its worst months for fires in more than 10 years, according to the Associated Press, citing national Brazil data. During that month, the media outlet reported that there were more than 42,000 fires within 30 days. Those fires destroyed 434 square miles of rainforest the outlet reported, an area more than 100 square miles bigger than New York City.