Brazil’s rainforests are some of the most pristine, wildlife dense, jungles on the planet. They didn’t disappoint researchers recently, as they unearthed seven new species of brightly colored frogs.
The delicate and extremely sensitive amphibians each live on only one mountaintop in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, taking researchers five full years to discover them.
The frogs, similar to those found in nearby Costa Rica, are all part of the genus Brachycephalus, and have already raised concern about potential extinction because of the very specific habitats they dwell in.
The frogs are all under a half inch in length, which has led to structural changes in their body. They have fewer fingers and toes than their more common cousins and use bright colors to warn of a potent neurotoxin on their skin.
“Although getting to many of the field sites is exhausting, there was always the feeling of anticipation and curiosity about what new species could look like,” said Marcio Pie, a professor at the Universidade Federal do Paraná.
Scientists have known of Brachycephalus since 1842, yet most of the group’s members have only been identified in the last ten years due to each species inhabiting remote cloud forests. Such areas are incredibly difficult, and dangerous, to get to.
“This is only the beginning, especially given the fact that we have already found additional species that we are in the process of formally describing,” Luiz Ribeiro, a researcher at the Mater Natura Institute for Environmental Studies.
The extinction risk for the frogs is so high because cloud forests are extremely susceptible to climatic changes and the frogs would have a hard time migrating to another mountaintop if their currently habitat is destroyed.
Brazil seems to appreciate the danger its forests are in and recently enacted sweeping protections to keep them safe from poachers and illegal logging.