Litoria (Litoria cf. pronimia)

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Litoria cf. pronimia

Top facts

  • Litoria cf. pronimia was discovered by herpetologist Dr Paul Oliver, who spotted it sitting on a bag of rice in an expedition campsite.
  • Males of Litoria cf. pronimia have a distinctive fleshy spike between their nostrils, been likened to the nose of the fictional character Pinocchio.
  • This spike can be held horizontal to the body of the frog (usually when male Litoria cf. pronimia are calling), at other times the spike hangs loosely.
  • Litoria cf. pronimia was discovered in the Foja Mountains on the island of New Guinea, a critical carbon sink habitat for the planet.
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Litoria fact file

Litoria description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAmphibia
OrderAnura
FamilyHylidae
GenusLitoria (1)

Litoria cf. pronimia was first discovered in 2008 on a Rapid Assessment Program expedition to the Foja Mountains, Indonesia (3). Its most noticeable feature is the long fleshy protrusion extending from the tip of its snout, described as being ‘Pinocchio-like’ (4). This protuberance is only present in the male frogs (5).

It is not yet clear whether the single specimen found in the Foja Mountains represents an entirely new species Litoria sp. nov., or a new population of the known Litoria pronimia. Further research is necessary to understand its taxonomic status (6).

As in Litoria cf. pronimia, the male Litoria pronimia has an extended fleshy spike on its snout which sets it apart from the female. Litoria pronimia is a small species that has short legs and a narrow head with large eyes. Its fingers are half webbed compared to its fully webbed toes, and on the back of its forearms, heels and around the opening of its cloaca are indistinct white projections or ‘tubercles(2).

Litoria pronimia’s upperparts are predominantly green and brown with black speckling and contrast against its white underparts. Three green bands also freckled with black are present on the dorsal surface of this species, located between its eyes, across its shoulders and across its middle. There is also partial orange colouring on the front and back of its short limbs (2).

The call of Litoria pronimia is described as a quiet creaking (2).

Also known as
Long-nosed tree frog, Pinocchio frog, spike-nosed tree frog.
Size
Snout-vent length (Litoria pronimia): 31 mm (2)
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Litoria biology

Little information is available regarding Litoria pronimia and Litoria cf. pronimia. Given the discovery of only a single specimen in the Foja Mountains there is not sufficient evidence yet to declare this individual as a separate species, and it is therefore currently referred to as Litoria cf. pronimia (6).

Litoria cf. pronimia were observed with erect nose spikes when initially captured..  After capture the nose became less erect and hung more loosely pointed  downwards (4). Herpetologists suspect that females may select males with the longest noses (5).

Erection of the fleshy nose spike in male Litoria pronimia individuals is suggested to be a visual cue during courtship which may also be accompanied by glandular secretions that are forced to the surface of the nose by muscular contractions. The purpose of glandular secretions is unclear without further investigation, however frogs are known to use such cues to locate breeding pools, and it is possible they also play a role in sex recognition (2).

A Litoria pronimia egg mass found attached to a leaf consisted of 14 pale-coloured eggs encased within a jelly-like mass (2).

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Litoria range

Litoria pronimia occurs between elevations of 300 and 1,200 metres andis known only from four locations in the central mountains of Papua New Guinea. All sites are situated on the southern side of the mountains, between the Star Mountains and Haia (1).

Litoria cf. pronimia was discovered in the Foja Mountains of the Indonesian Papua province, on the island of New Guinea (4). Should this specimen be found to belong to Litoria pronimia, it will represent an entirely new population of this species (6)

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Litoria habitat

Litoria pronimia is often found near rainforest pools or ponds (1) (2). It breeds in temporary pools and swamps, and less frequently in seepages and ditches (1).

The Foja Mountains where Litoria cf. pronimia was found cover an area of intact rainforest larger than 300,000 square hectares (4). Mountain peaks in the region can reach 2,200 metres in height (7), and it is rough and inaccessible habitat. The area is isolated from the central mountain range of New Guinea by lowland forests and the Mamberamo Basin swamps (8).

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Litoria status

Litoria pronimia is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1). Due to uncertainty regarding the taxonomic status of Litoria cf. pronimia, this species is not yet classified on the IUCN Red List. 

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Litoria threats

There are no major threats known to Litoria pronimia. However, it was observed that human garden encroachment had destroyed several breeding sites in the Star Mountains at the time this species was discovered (1).

As insufficient data has led to uncertainty as to whether or not the Foja Mountains individual is a separate species, there are no known threats to Litoria cf. pronimia at present (6)

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Litoria conservation

Although Litoria pronimia is known to occur within two protected areas, it is necessary to investigate the full range of this species in order to define any conservation requirements (1) (6).

It will also be important to determine if Litoria cf. pronimia is indeed a new species or if it represents a new population of Litoria pronimia. If it is a new species further work will be required to determine  its range and population size. (6).

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Find out more

Find out more about Litoria cf. pronimia:

More on the Conservation International expedition to the Foja Mountains, New Guinea:

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Authentication

Authenticated (03/04/13) by Paul Oliver Mckenzie, Postdoctoral Fellow, The University of Melbourne.

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Glossary

Cloaca
A common cavity into which the reproductive, digestive and urinary systems open in birds, reptiles, amphibians, most fish and some primitive mammals.
Dorsal
Relating to the back or top side of an animal.
Glandular
Relating to or bearing glands, organs that make and secrete substances used by the body.
Tubercle (tubercles)
A small, rounded, wart-like bump on the skin or on a bone.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2013)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Menzies, J. (1993) Systematics of Litoria iris (Anura: Hylidae) and its allies in New Guinea and a note on sexual dimorphism in the group. Australian Journal of Zoology, 41: 225-255.
  3. The Telegraph (2011) Pinocchio frog, ET salamander, Yoda bat and dinospider: species near extinction. The Telegraph, 13 April. Available at:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthpicturegalleries/8445897/Pinocchio-frog-ET-salamander-Yoda-bat-and-dinospider-species-near-extinction.html?image=2
  4. Conservation International (2010) Newly discovered: the Pinocchio of frogs, a gargoyle-faced gecko, and the world’s smallest wallaby. Conservation International Press Releases, 17 May. Available at:
    http://www.conservation.org/newsroom/pressreleases/Pages/New_Species_in_Foja_Mountains.aspx
  5. Peddie, C. (2010) Meet the frog with a nose that grows. AdelaideNow: The Advertiser, 18 May. Available at:
    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/meet-the-frog-with-a-nose-that-grows/story-e6frea83-1225867935578
  6. Oliver, P. (March, 2013) Pers. comm.
  7. Kluger, J. (2010) Found in New Guinea: A menagerie of new critters. Time Magazine, 18 May. Available at:
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1989883,00.html
  8. Richards, S., Oliver, P., Krey, K. and Tjaturadi, B. (2009) A new species of Litoria (Amphibia: Anura: Hylidae) from the foothills of the Foja Mountains, Papua Province, Indonesia. Zootaxa, 2277: 1-13.
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Litoria cf. pronimia  
Litoria cf. pronimia

© Tim Laman / naturepl.com

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