Chinese scientists record new species in Tibet

Updated: 2016-01-28 12:12


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LHASA - The discovery of a new Himalayan forest frog clade in Tibet has been confirmed. It will join 12 other Chinese amphibian families.

After five years of field research, scientists from Kunming Institute of Zoology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences confirmed the discovery of the rare frog that can breed without the help of water, as well as new species of reptiles on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

The frogs were categorized under the oldest available generic name for this clade -- Liurana, and divided into three effective species -- Liurana alpine, Liurana medogensis and Liurana xizangensis.

Based on morphological and phylogenetic data, they were believed to be "close relatives" of the family of Ceratobatrachidae that live on the south Pacific islands.

Che Jing, an analyst with the institute, told Xinhua that the discovery means the definition of Ceratobatrachidae must be reviewed and this is the first record of this family in China.

"The family's distribution range has now increased from the south Pacific to include the Himalayan region. This offers valuable insight into biogenetic evolution and geological history," Che said.

The smallest frogs known to reside in China, an adult Liurana frog is 3-cm long at most, while a Liurana medogensis is less than 2 cm. The frogs live around moss in forests over 3,000 meters above sea level.

Ceratobatrachidae frogs have also been spotted in the southeast Asian countries of Myanmar and Thailand.

Che said a survey across the Indo-China Peninsula in southeast Asia would be necessary.

In addition, Chinese scientists identified a new genus and species of tree frog, a new species of the genus Scutiger, and a new species of the genus Amolops in Modog County, southeastern Tibet, as well as two new species of Japalura on the Hengduan Mountain Range, according to findings published by the institute.

Ranging from tropical forest to alpine conditions, Modog is a biodiversity-rich area in the eastern Himalayan region.

Home to 47 nature reserves, Tibet Autonomous Region boasts China's largest conservation area.