May 20, 2024

In a sandy patch of rainforest in Brazil, a “very secretive” creature laid its eggs in the foam nest built by its mate. The white, almost Styrofoam-looking nest was dug into the ground and difficult to find.

Difficult, but not impossible.

Scientists located the discreet animal and its nest. It turned out to be a new species.

Researchers visited a white-sand forest in the Brazilian Amazon several times as part of a long-term survey between 2019 and 2023, according to a March 7 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.

During their visits, researchers found some camouflaged frogs that built “foam nests,” the study said. They took a closer look at the frogs and realized they’d discovered a new species: Adenomera albarena, or the white-sand terrestrial foam-nesting frog.

White-sand terrestrial foam-nesting frogs are considered “medium”-sized, reaching about 1 inch in length, the study said. Overall, they have a cinnamon-colored body with some darker brown or black patches and lighter orange-tinged spots.

Several photos show how well the new species blends in with its surroundings.

Several Adenomera albarena, or white-sand terrestrial foam-nesting frogs.Several Adenomera albarena, or white-sand terrestrial foam-nesting frogs.

Several Adenomera albarena, or white-sand terrestrial foam-nesting frogs.


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Male white-sand terrestrial foam-nesting frogs were often found calling while on the ground or hidden in the leaves, the study said. The male frogs also dug “underground chambers” and built “foam nests” where female frogs lay their eggs.

These nests are buried under the leaves and roots, making them “very difficult to find,” the study said. A photo shows an exposed nest.

Researchers said it was “not difficult to observe” male frogs, but female frogs were “very secretive.”

The exposed nest of an Adenomera albarena, or white-sand terrestrial foam-nesting frog.The exposed nest of an Adenomera albarena, or white-sand terrestrial foam-nesting frog.

The exposed nest of an Adenomera albarena, or white-sand terrestrial foam-nesting frog.

White-sand terrestrial foam-nesting frogs live in white-sand forests of the Amazon rainforest, the study said. These areas have a mixture of grassland, trees and sand.

Researchers said they named the new species after the Latin words “alba,” meaning “white,” and “arena,” meaning “sand,” because of its preferred habitat.

So far, the new species has only been found at a few sites in the State of Amazonas, a northwestern state that borders Peru, Colombia and Venezuela.

The new species was identified by its habitat preference, coloring, body shape, teeth and size, the study said. DNA analysis found the new species had at least 4% genetic divergence from related frog species.

The research team included Bryan da Cunha Martins, Alexander Tamanini Mônico, Cianir Mendonça, Silionamã Dantas, Jesus Souza, James Hanken, Albertina Pimentel Lima and Miquéias Ferrão.

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