Laos Home to Two New Frog Species

The Rana compotrix, one of two new frog species found in Lao PDR. (Image credit: Nikolai Orlov)

Scientists have recently identified two new species of frogs in the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

The announcement comes on the heels of several recent discoveries that have showcased this Southeast Asian country as a treasure spot for wildlife.

In recent years, Lao PDR, a landlocked country bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, has introduced the Laotian rock rat, the only living member of an ancient mammal family, the Annamite striped rabbit, and the saola, a type of forest antelope, to the world.

Six new frog species have been found in the past two years. The latest two, named Rana vitrea and Rana compotrix, were described in the recent issue of Copeia, the journal of the American Society of Herpetologists and Ichthyologists.

Not much is known about the frogs, except how their form and structure is different from similar species and where they can be found.

"Now that these species have been documented we can go back and start to learn something about their biology," said Bryan Stuart of the Field Museum, a co-author of the study.

Laos has a high level of biodiversity and contains some of the most significant forest areas in Southeast Asia. But with an estimated 55 percent loss of forest cover and over-exploitation of species, much of its wildlife is threatened.

Most recently, a species of salamander discovered by Stuart in Laos found its way to the Japanese pet trade earlier this year. Conservationists hope to survey this species, get the extent of its range and find government support for its protection.

Sara Goudarzi
Sara Goudarzi is a Brooklyn writer and poet and covers all that piques her curiosity, from cosmology to climate change to the intersection of art and science. Sara holds an M.A. from New York University, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, and an M.S. from Rutgers University. She teaches writing at NYU and is at work on a first novel in which literature is garnished with science.