New species of flying frog found in Ho Chi Minh
An Australian researcher who discovered a new species of flying frog near Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and named it after her mother said it was a rare find so close to such a big city.
Helen's Flying Frog was first discovered by Jodi Rowley, an amphibian expert from Sydney's Australian Museum, in 2009.
Rowley initially thought the tree-dwelling flying frog, so named for the huge webbed feet that allow it to glide or parachute across the forest canopy, was a familiar species when she saw it sitting on a log beside a path.
It was not until a later trip, when she saw a specimen of the original type of frog in another part of Vietnam, that she realised her creature was different.
"The new species has a bright, white belly and white whites of the eyes, whereas the species that I thought it was - its closest relative - has a lemon yellow belly and yellow whites of the eyes," Rowley said. "There's also differences in the colour of the webbing, colour of the thighs, and we did look at body type as well so it does seem to be bigger."
Molecular analysis confirmed Rowley's suspicions and she had the honour of naming the new species Rhacophorus helenae or Helen's Flying Frog after her mother, who had recently been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
She said the "big, impressive" species, which is 10cm long, was a surprising find in the low-lying evergreen forest on the fringes of Ho Chi Minh.
"What's rare about this discovery is the fact that I found the lone individual less than 90 kilometres from the middle of Ho Chi Minh, one of the biggest cities in Southeast Asia," said Rowley.
Researchers are now working to establish whether Helen's frog is endangered.