New Species of Mossy Frog Discovered in Vietnam

by johnsmith

An international team of researchers has described a new species of the tree frog genus Theloderma from northeastern Vietnam.

Theloderma khoii, holotype, male, in life. Image credit: Ninh et al., doi: 10.5852/ejt.2022.794.1655.

Theloderma khoii, holotype, male, in life. Image credit: Ninh et al., doi: 10.5852/ejt.2022.794.1655.

The genus Theloderma is a poorly known group of tree frogs due to their cryptic habits and because they are infrequently encountered.

First established in 1838, this genus is currently comprised of 26 species distributed throughout southeast Asia, southern China and northeastern India.

“Vietnam has more Theloderma species than any other country; a total of 16 species have been recorded to date,” said Dr. Tao Thien Nguyen from the Vietnam National Museum of Nature and the Institute of Genome Research at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology and his colleagues from Vietnam and Germany.

“The discovery of an additional species of Theloderma in Vietnam suggests that the current species richness of the genus remains underestimated.”

The new species was discovered in June 2020 during field work in Ha Giang Province, northeastern Vietnam.

Named Theloderma khoii (common name is the Khoi’s mossy frog), the species was recorded at elevations between 1,320 and 1,750 m above sea level.

“The distribution of the species is unknown but probably extends into adjacent high elevation forested areas in Ha Giang Province, Vietnam and in Yunnan Province, China,” the researchers said.

Theloderma khoii is a large-sized member of its genus; males (snout-to-vent length – 52.2 mm) are smaller than females (59.4 mm), with single vocal sac and nuptial pads.

“Theloderma khoii shows the diagnostic characters of the genus Theloderma, for instance a distinct tympanum, round canthus rostralis, bony ridges from canthus rostralis to occiput absent, and skin of head not co-ossified to the skull,” the authors said.

They suggest the new species should be considered Endangered following IUCN’s Red List categories.

“The new species likely occurs in one threat-defined location, which has been characterized as an area with a continuing decline in the quality of its habitat due to deforestation,” they said.

“Therefore, Theloderma khoii likely qualifies as Endangered B1ab(iii) in accordance with the categories and criteria of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.”

A paper describing the discovery was published in the European Journal of Taxonomy.


H.T. Ninh et al. 2022. A new species of mossy frog (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from Northeastern Vietnam. European Journal of Taxonomy 794 (1): 72-90; doi: 10.5852/ejt.2022.794.1655

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