Probably the most famous creation of Jim Henson, Kermit the Frog, was the favorite Muppet of many. The star and host of The Muppet Show has played a significant role in the lives of millions of children and adults worldwide.
“Hi-ho, Kermit the Frog here!”
And he’s alive!
Deep in the jungles in Costa Rica, scientists have discovered almost an identical twin of the celebrity frog. After over a century working in the Talamanca Mountains, they have found the tiny, semi-translucent frog, known as Hyalinobatrachium dianae!
The new species, Diane’s Bare-hearted Glassfrog, has a translucent underbelly and bulging white eyes. There are 149 known glass frog species, and the inch-long creature joins Costa Rica’s 13 other glass frogs.
Glass frogs are rare, only found in parts of South and Central America. They live high in tree canopies close to streams and creeks and descend when it’s time to breed.
They are characterized by a lack of skin pigmentation, while the green coloration helps them camouflage on the undersides of leaves during the day.
The H. Dianae glass frog is among the most translucent of these frogs, and its huge, bright black and white eyes resemble the ones of the popular Kermit The Frog!
It was discovered by Brian Kubicki, Stanley Salazar, and Robert Puschendorf, between 400m and 800m up the mountain. It was the first discovery of this frog in Costa Rica in more than four decades.
The frog was named after the mother of Brian, Janet Diana Kubicki, and in honor of the Roman hunting goddess Diana.
H. dianae is different from other frogs in numerous morphological and genetic ways.
Apart from its Kermit eyes, the nocturnal frog also has long and thin feet and uses a rather unique call to attract females, described as a long metallic whistle with rapid pulses.
The mating call resembles the one of insects, and according to scientists, it was this insect-like call that helped the frog remain hidden for so long, apart from the remote location in the tropical Caribbean foothills of Costa Rica.
Costa Rica’s last glass frog discovery occurred in 1973.
Researchers collected only six specimens from sites in Costa Rica’s Caribbean foothills, and according to Kubicki and his colleagues, the habitat of the frog is mainly in protected conservation areas with few roads, so the species is generally protected from human development in the future.
Biologist Steven Whitfield, a National Geographic grantee who studies frogs in Costa Rica, explains that the altitude these frogs live at is ideal for the deadly chytrid fungus as well.
This fungus attacks amphibian skin and has led to the disappearance of several frog species from Costa Rica and worldwide since the 1980s.
He adds that frogs are also threatened by habitat loss caused by deforestation, adding:
“It’s pretty cool to see that they’ve found a new species when there are so many that may have been lost.”