‘Freaky fanged frog’ hiding in plain sight is a new species, scientists say

Limnonectes beloncioi (the Mindoro Fanged Frog) was originally thought to be the same species as another fanged frog.

Scott Travers

You might think of frogs as shy and retiring little creatures, but some of them have developed hard-core features like fangs and horns. Scientists have identified a new species in the Philippines and the University of Kansas described it as a “freaky fanged frog.”

“This is what we call a cryptic species because it was hiding in plain sight in front of biologists for many, many years,” said KU doctoral student Mark Herr, lead author of a paper describing the frog published in the journal Ichthyology & Herpetology

The new species is called Limnonectes beloncioi, with the common name Mindoro Fanged Frog in honor of Mindoro Island where it lives.

The Giant Luzon fanged frog (Limnonectes macrocephalus) has fangs similar to the Mindoro Fanged Frog.

Rafe Brown

It was a 100-year-long case of mistaken identity. The frogs looked just like a species of fanged frog (Acanth’s Fanged Frog) found on another island, but the researchers discovered the Mindoro critters had a different mating call. 

Genetic analysis confirmed the two species are related, but distinct. The scientists estimate they’ve been separated from each other for 2 million to 6 million years.

The Mindoro frogs live in streams and sport hidden fangs inside their mouths. Herr said the fangs are likely used for combat over mating sites and to fight off predators. 

The study shows you can’t judge a frog by its (or its fangs).

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