A high-pitched sound in the jungle caught the attention of Ecuadorean biologist Jorge Prieto. He thought it was a night cricket, but when he got close, he came across a type of protruding-nosed frog that science has thought has been silent since its discovery a century ago.
“Although he didn’t blow his ultraviolet bag, you could see a little flash” on his chin, says Jorge Brito, of the National Institute of Biological Diversity (Inabio), explaining that “this particular song” caught his attention.
His colleague Diego Batalas, who worked at the conservatory before becoming a biologist, recorded the squawks in the lab and described them as “very soft”, “similar to the sound of a bird, with a frequency between low and high”.
Both published the results of their discovery in February in the journal Neotropical Biodiversity, thus disproving the notion that Rhinella vista, “a species that lacks vocal slits and vocal sacs, which are anatomically related to vocal production,” they explain. Mr. Batalas.
These amphibians of the family Bufonidae, listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), have brown and rough skin, measuring 45 and 68 mm and featuring a nasal protrusion. It lives in the Amazon massifs of Kotoko and Condor, between Ecuador and Peru.
Their discovery is not limited to rhinos only. Because the soft thread of the sound emitted will prove that all kinds of frogs, even those notorious for being dumb, can sing.
“It’s very likely that there are species that have gone unnoticed, and because of evolutionary processes we know nothing about, we don’t need to hear their voices from a distance,” says Batalas.
The sound from the Rhinella Festival is believed to be an advertisement, as if it were a business card. Because in other species, squawks are associated with courtship and defense of territory.
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