November 11, 2014

Amazon Rainforest Frog Named After Ozzy Osbourne

April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

What happens when you combine Ozzy Osbourne-loving scientists with the Brazilian rainforest? You get a new species of frog named the Dendropsophus ozzi with a high-pitched chirpy call.

"As soon as I heard its call, I knew it was a new species. I had never heard anything like it," Pedro Peloso, one of the frog's discoverers and a postdoctoral fellow at Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Brazil, told National Geographic reporter Carrie Arnold.

According to Arnold, the tiny frog (just three-fourths of an inch long) was found in 2009 as part of a biodiversity survey of Floresta Nacional de Pau-Rosa, a protected area in the state of Amazonas. The survey, which lasted a month, found 21 specimens of the brown and orange animal with long, delicate fingers and toes.

The male of the species also has an unusually large vocal sac, which is a nearly transparent piece of skin that inflates to produce the unique high-pitched chirping sounds. Most male tree frogs make loud calls to communicate with females, but this is the first species to be found that sounds like a bat.

The bat-like quality of the sound led the researchers to talk about Ozzy Osbourne's infamous bat biting experience in 1991. Because of this, Peloso named the new frog after Osbourne. The animal is described in a recent issue of Zootaxa.

For a month in 2009, Peloso and his colleagues traveled up the Amazon River by boat, using very low-tech collecting methods to secure specimens. Peloso used a flashlight, a plastic bag and a digital audio recorder to capture samples and sounds from the species he encountered.

The new frog was found in three different areas of the rainforest. The three areas are widely separated, and travel between them is difficult, leading Peloso to suggest that the frog is in no immediate danger of extinction. He is surprised that no one has found the frog before, considering its wide distribution.

"To find a species, it's a matter of being in the right place at the right time. If the conditions aren't right, it's really easy to miss them," Peloso said.


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