Tuesday, 12 June 2012

New to nature No 75: Leptobrachium bompu

When it comes to frogs in the genus Leptobrachium, the eyes have it. Among its 27 species, there is a remarkable variety of eye colouration. In many species, the lower two-thirds of the eye is darkly coloured, while the upper third is a bright, contrasting colour, such as yellow, scarlet, blue or pale green.
Sanjay Sondhi of the nature conservation Titli Trust and Annemarie Ohler of the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris recently described L. bompu, a new species from India that has a striking greyish-blue iris with a vertically oriented black pupil. The only other species with uniformly blue eyes is L. waysepuntiense from Sumatra.
Aside from the thousands of miles separating these two species are several distinguishing features: L. bompu lacks black reticulatations in the eye, has black bands on its limbs, feet, digits and upper lip, as well as irregular dark markings on its dorsal surface. Additionally, its skin is distinctly wrinkled compared with L. waysepuntiense. There were only two other species of the genus previously known from India, both of which are among those with yellow or scarlet eyes. The genus was once divided into species that have horny spines on the upper lip and those that, like L. bompu, do not. Recent studies, however, indicate that neither of these groups shares a unique ancestor.

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