New York: An orange-striped, yellow-speckled frog discovered by Malaysian herpetologist Juliana Senawi in swampland on the Malay Peninsula has now been determined to be a new species.
"The frog was originally confused with the Siberut Island Frog, which is a species that occurs on Siberut Island off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, due to their similar appearance in colour-pattern," said Chan Kin Onn, a fellow herpetologist pursuing his doctorate at the University of Kansas (KU) in the US.
The researchers wondered if genetic code from the exact same frog species could have jumped eastward from a remote island across 150 miles of Indian Ocean - then over the whole of Sumatra - then across the Strait of Malacca into the Malaysian interior.
"Despite their similarities, we had a strong suspicion that the frog from Malaysia was not the Siberut Island Frog," Chan said.
The researchers performed an extensive genetic analysis in the lab of Rafe Brown, curator of herpetology at KU`s Biodiversity Institute, to determine whether the Malaysian frog was indeed new to science - genetically distinct from its doppelganger on Siberut Island.
When testing was complete, the first hunch of the Malaysian team proved right.
"Sure enough, results from Rafe`s genetic analysis showed that the frog from Peninsular Malaysia was genetically too distant from the Siberut Island Frog to be considered the same species, so we decided to describe it as a new species," Chan said.
The study appeared in the journal Herpetologica.