SYDNEY: An Australian researcher who discovered a new species of flying frog near Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and named it after her mother said yesterday it was a rare find so close to such a big city. Helen’s Flying Frog was first discovered by Jodi Rowley, an amphibian expert from Sydney’s Australian Museum, in 2009 during a field trip to the forests fringing the city previously known as Saigon.
Rowley initially thought the tree-dwelling flying frog, so named for the huge webbed feet that allow it to glide or parachute across the forest canopy, was a familiar species when she saw it sitting on a log beside a path. It was not until a later trip, when she saw a specimen of the original type of frog in another part of Vietnam, that she realized her creature was something quite different.
“The new species has a bright white belly and white whites of the eyes, whereas the species that I thought it was — its closest relative — has a lemon yellow belly and yellow whites of the eyes,” Rowley told AFP. “There’s also differences in the color of the webbing, color of the thighs, and we did look at body type as well so it does seem to be bigger than the other species.”
Molecular analysis confirmed Rowley’s suspicions and she had the honor of naming the new species rhacophorus helenae or Helen’s Flying Frog after her mother, who had recently been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.