Elusive ‘Warm Valley’ Toad Discovered in Peruvian Andes

Female Rhinella Yunga
This image shows and adult female Rhinella yunga from the area of Rio Huatziroki. (Image credit: J. Moravec)

A new species of toad has been discovered in the “warm valleys” of the Peruvian Andes. The new species, called Rhinella Yunga, is distinct from its related species by the absence of a tympanic membrane, a round organ that functions as an eardrum.  “Yunga” is used by locals to describe the toad’s natural habitat and translates best to “warm valley” in English. 

The species was discovered hiding among leaf litter and has a similar body coloration to the decaying leaves on the forest floor. This unique “dead-leaf pattern,” along with bony protrusions larger cranial crests, make the new species hard to spot.

This image shows a male toad of the new species Rhinella yunga. (Image credit: J. Moravec)

"It appears that large number of still unnamed cryptic species remains hidden under some nominal species of the Rhinella margaritifera species group," explains Dr Jiří Moravec, National Museum Prague, Czech Republic.

Like most toads in the family Bufonidae, Rhinella Yunga, possess a warty body and a pair of large poison external skin glands.

The study was published in the journal ZooKeys.

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Nina Sen
Nina Sen is a frequent contributor to Live Science’s Life’s Little Mysteries series: an exploration and explanation of our world’s phenomena, both natural and man-made. She also writes astronomy photo stories for Live Science's sister site Space.com.