Recent research highlights

Mini frogs from Madagascar

My colleagues and I have described five diminutive frogs from Madagascar, including the new genus Mini with three new species, Mini mumMini scule, and Mini ature. These frogs are amongst the smallest in the world. They highlight the dynamic history of size evolution in Madagascar’s narrow-mouthed frogs, and open up really interesting new avenues for exploration.

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Scherz, M.D., Hutter, C.R., Rakotoarison, A., Riemann, J.C., Rödel, M.-O., Ndriantsoa, S.H., Glos, J., Hyde Roberts, S., Crottini, A., Vences, M. & Glaw, F. (2019) Morphological and ecological convergence at the lower size limit for vertebrates highlighted by five new miniaturised microhylid frog species from three different Madagascan genera. PLoS One, 14:e0213314. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0213314 [pdf]

Three new species of chameleon

Continuing our work on the small arboreal chameleons of the Calumma nasutum species group, my colleagues and I described three new species from the C. guibei complex. The new species, Calumma uetzi, C. lefona, and C. juliae, are small but charismatic species, and all three are probably threatened with extinction.

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Prötzel, D., Vences, M., Hawlitschek, O., Scherz, M.D., Ratsoavina, F.M. & Glaw, F. (2018) Endangered beauties: three new species of chameleons in the Calumma boettgeri complex (Squamata: Chamaeleonidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, advanced access, 1–28. [Request PDF]

New mossy frog from Madagascar

My colleagues and I described a new species of frog from northern Madagascar that is strongly distinct from all others. The new species, Gephyromantis (Vatomantis) lomorina, and it shares some characters with two different groups of frogs within the diverse genus Gephyromantis that could turn the subgeneric taxonomy of these groups on its head.

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Scherz, M.D., Hawlitschek, O., Razafindraibe, J.H., Megson, S., Ratsoavina, F.M., Rakotoarison, A., Bletz, M.C., Glaw, F. & Vences, M. (2018) A distinctive new frog species (Anura, Mantellidae) supports the biogeographic linkage of the montane rainforest massifs of northern Madagascar. Zoosystematics and Evolution, 94(2):247–261. DOI: 10.3897/zse.94.21037 [pdf]

Widespread bone-based fluorescence in chameleons

A few years ago, we discovered that some elements of the heads of many chameleons fluoresce under UV light. Following this discovery, our research group embarked on a mission to study how widespread this phenomenon is, the underlying physiology, and its potential significance. The results of our investigation into the phenomenon were published in Scientific Reports: the fluorescent structures are tubercles of the skull, jutting out through thin layers of dermis that are rendered transparent by their thinness and the displacement of all chromatophores. These structures are widespread in chameleons, and generally appear to be sexually dimorphic, and have diagnostic patterning. As for an implication and significance… the jury is still out.

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Prötzel, D., Heß, M., Scherz, M.D., Schwager, M., van’t Padje, A. & Glaw, F. (2018) Widespread bone-based fluorescence in chameleons. Scientific Reports, 8:698. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-19070-7 [pdf]