Three Rhacophoridae species new to science discovered in Vietnam

Based on morphological, molecular genetic and bioacoustic analysis, a team of researchers from the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (including the Vietnam Museum of Nature, the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources) in collaboration with researchers of the Russian Federation (Petersburg Green Fauna Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences) and Germany (Cologne Zoo) discovered and described three new species of Rhacophoridae for science, including Rhacophorusvanbanicus, Zhangixalusfranki and Zhangixalusjodiae. The new species are identified by the following characteristics:

RhacophorusvanbanicusKropachev, Orlov, Ninh, and Nguyen, 2019

The new species has medium size with a body length in adult males of about 34.8 millimeters, with head width smaller than head length, swimming membrane formula I1+ – 2½II2½ – 2⅓III2+ – 1½IV and I1+–1½II1–2 –III1–2–IV2– –1V. Dorsal brown with two blue stripes on the back from eye to inguinal forms a blue triangle at the head. The underside of the thighs is yellow-orange with 5-7 characteristic black nodules. The new species is named after the standard sampling site in Van Ban district, Lao Cai province, Vietnam at an altitude of 900 meters with an evergreen forest habitat on rocky mountains with high humidity and frequent fog and drizzle. The full text of the article was published in the Russian Journal of Herpetology, number 26, pages 325-334. (DOI: 10.30906/1026-2296-2019-26-6-325-334).

Rhacophorusvanbanicus in the wild

Zhangixalusjodiae Nguyen, Ninh, Orlov, Nguyen, and Ziegler, 2020

The new species samples were collected in Quan Ba district, Ha Giang province. In terms of morphology, the new species has an average size of body length in the range of 36.1-39.8 millimeters, with head width similar to head length, rounded snout, cane-leaf teeth; forelimbs and hind limbs have swimming membranes, formula: I1-1II1-1III2-1IV and I1-1II½-1III0-1½IV1-½V; dorsal blue without spots, armpits cream with large black spots, groin and anteroposterior portion of thighs with alternating black and orange spots. Genetically, the new species is on the same clade as Z. nigropunctautus, Z. yaoshanensis, Z. pinglongensis and Z. chenfui. Z. jodiae, having the closest genetic distance to Z. pinglongensis at 3.57%. The bioacoustics were recorded at a temperature of 17.3oC-20.9oC with each cry lasting 1.1 seconds and consisting of 6 notes, each about 6 milliseconds, the distance between the two notes about 15 milliseconds. The dominant frequency is 2.0kHz. The notes of the cry have variable amplitude, where the last note has the smallest amplitude compared to the rest. The new species is named after Dr Jodi Rowley from the Australian Museum for her outstanding contributions to the study of the taxonomy of amphibians in Asia. The full article is published in the Journal of Natural History, 54, pages 257–273 (

Zhangixalusjodiae in the wild (A & B), and forelimbs and hind limbs (C & D)

ZhangixalusfrankiNinh, Nguyen, Orlov, Nguyen, and Ziegler, 2020

The new species can be distinguished from other species in the genus Zhangixalus by the following combination of features: large body size (SVL 77.9-85.8 millimeters in males), blue dorsal surface with small dark brownspots, with white stripes separating upper and lower body, well developed parotid gland. Formula for swimming membranes of front and hind limbs: I1-1II0-1III½-0IV and I0-0II0-½III0-1IV0-0V. Specimens were collected at an altitude of 1,300 meters in Quan Ba district, Ha Giang province. The typical habitat is tropical evergreen forest in the mountains. Genetically, the new species is in the same clade that is most closely related to Z. duboisi, the genetic distance between the two species is about 2.51%.

Standard specimen of Zhangixalusfranki (A & B) and drawings of forelimbs and hindlimbs (C)

The new species is named after the late German professor, PhD, veterinarian and amphibian conservationist Frank Mutschmann in honor and recognition of his support of amphibian research and conservation projects in Vietnam. The full article is published in the European Journal of Taxonomy 688: 1–18 (

Translated by Phuong Huyen
Link to Vietnamese version



Related news