SYDNEY – An Australian researcher who discovered a new species of flying frog near Ho Chi Minh City and named it after her mother said it was a rare find so close to such a big metropolis.
Helen’s flying frog was discovered by Jodi Rowley, an amphibian expert from Sydney’s Australian Museum, during a 2009 field trip to the forests on the city’s fringe. 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. 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 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 said Tuesday.
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.