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Scientists find new frog that changes colour with age

world Updated: Feb 01, 2010 17:16 IST

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A new species of frog which drastically changes its colour as it grows into an adult has been discovered in a remote part of south-eastern Papua New Guinea.

An American research team identified the unique frog -- Oreophryne ezra -- which is shiny dark black with yellow spots in early stages of its life and switches to a uniform peach coloured adult with bright blue eyes. "It's always exciting to discover a species you know to be new.

However, the obviously unusual biology of this frog made its discovery especially exciting," said researcher Dr Fred Kraus from Bishop Museum in US. "The remarkable thing about this frog is the drastic nature of its change in colour pattern as it matures from a tiny froglet into adulthood.

This raises the question of what possible function the striking colours of the juveniles might serve," said Dr Kraus. The bright pattern of the young frog could act as a warning to predators but it is a mystery why the adult then loses this colour, the researchers said in a report in the journal Copeia.

Noting that the younger ones closely resemble the general appearance of some of the poison dart frogs from the tropics, the scientists suggest that the species may also have harmful toxins in its skin. "If this is the case this would make this species another instance of the independent evolution of such a system," Dr Kraus said adding, it is, however, yet to be affirmed.