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Technoscience

Marsupial tree frogs

Female Gastrotheca recava of the Atlantic Forest of Bahia: back pouch full of eggs

Mauro Teixeira jr. / USPFemale Gastrotheca recava of the Atlantic Forest of Bahia: back pouch full of eggsMauro Teixeira jr. / USP

Two new species of “marsupial” tree frogs have been discovered in the Atlantic Forest by a team led by Miguel Trefaut Rodrigues, herpetologist from the University of São Paulo (USP).  Both species belong to the genus Gastrotheca, whose females have a type of pouch on their backs, which is used to carry their eggs.  Protected within the pouch, the eggs develop until they become tadpoles, or even small tree frogs.  The researchers witnessed 20 offspring leave the back of a female Gastrotheca recava captured at the Wenceslau Guimarães State Ecological Center, located in the south of the Brazilian state of Bahia.  “There were hundreds of them hanging on the branches, vocalizing,” recalls Mauro Teixeira Jr., USP doctoral candidate and first author of the article that describes the new species (Zootaxa, August 2012).  Another species, Gastrotheca prasina, was discovered living inside bromeliads in an isolated area of the Mata Escura Biological Reserve in Jequitinhonha, state of Minas Gerais.  For Rodrigues, the findings underscore the fact that “we still know so little about Brazil’s fauna.”

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