Scientists have found a new species of frogs that look exactly like the “chocolate frogs” in the Harry Potter movie series. In the popular fantasy movie, chocolate frogs were a popular wizarding sweet that came with collectable cards. Interestingly, when the scientists found a little member of the previously unknown species in New Guinea, they started calling it chocolate frog because of its colour and the name stuck. These newly discovered creatures belong to a family of frogs that is very common in the Australian mainlands. Scientists claim that the discovery in New Guinea, which is an island north of the Australian mainland, implies that the lowlands of the northern and southern parts were connected till as recently as 2.6 million years ago.
The new paper, which was published in the Australian Journal of Zoology, terms the new species as Litoria mira, which means strange or surprised in Latin.
“It was a surprising discovery to find an overlooked relative of Australia’s well-known and common green tree living in the lowland rainforests of New Guinea,” said Paul Oliver, one of the authors of the study, in a news release by Griffith University. Oliver teaches at the university’s School of Environmental Science and works at Queensland Museum.
The green tree frog Oliver speaks of is native to Australia and New Guinea sized around 4 inches. The dumpy tree frog is known for its beautiful green skin colour and considered an exotic pet that is docile and well-suited to live around humans.
The similarities between the chocolate frog and the green tree frog common in Australia speak of the biotic connections that both the territories shared for millions of years. Even after their separation by the Arafura sea, many animal groups are shared by the terrains. Now, New Guinea is covered by dense rainforests, and large plains of grasslands dominate Northern Australia. However, according to Steve Richards, who is also a co-author of the study, understanding the biodiversity of New Guinea can help scientists understand the unique animal life of Australia, its origins and history.