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From Drop Bears to Vampire Frogs

By: Fran Dorey, Category: At The Museum, Date: 23 Dec 2010

Our 'breaking news' display has changed from featuring the elusive Drop Bear to the newly discovered and fabulously named amphibian species, the Vampire Flying Frog. We kid you not!

Dr Jodi Rowley, Coordinator of AMRI

David Emmett © David Emmett

While we've been busy in Exhibitions, Museum research scientist Jodi Rowley has been tramping through mud, hiking into jungles and sleeping in the rain - all to find new species of frogs. If you are in the Museum check out her latest discovery now on display in the Atrium, or read about it here. (And if you missed the Drop Bear, you can read about it on our website).

Vampire Flying Frogs

From the far jungles of South Vietnam, Rhacophorus vampyrus or the Vampire Flying Frog has emerged as a strange new species of frog, recently discovered by Australian Museum Scientist, Jodi Rowley.

The new species is only known to inhabit a single, high-elevation patch of montane forest in Southern Vietnam, where it breeds in small, water-filled holes in trees.

This unusual frog has adapted for life in the trees, using webbed fingers and toes for jumping from great heights and gliding - hence the ‘flying frog’ name. But it’s the strange black ‘fangs’ the species’ tadpoles display which has earned it a place in the vampire world. In place of a normal set of mouthparts (usually similar to a beak), tadpoles of the Vampire Flying Frog have a pair of hard, black ‘fangs’ protruding from the underside of their mouth.

This newly discovered fanged tadpole is giving the Australian Museum research scientist Jodi Rowley and her colleagues plenty to think about. "This is the first time that ‘fangs’ have been recorded in a frog tadpole. We can only speculate at this stage what the fangs are for and we are now looking in to that” said Jodi.