By: Tara Flaherty
Summary. Scientist Raffael Ernst discovered the 'zombie frog' while doing field research for his PhD in the Amazon forest. This newly discovered species of frog lives most of its life underground and the male of its species is only known to call out during or directly after heavy rainfall. While out during a rainstorm Ernst heard a peculiar croak, one of an amphibian, but not one he had heard before. Following the sound of the cry Ernst and his fellow researchers dug in the mud until they found the source of the sound. The animal found only spanned about 1.5 inches and was orange and speckled in color. One would think that because of the species name that the zombie frog would have unusual physical features or extremely odd behavior but the zombie frog isn't drastically different than any normal species of frog. The species was instead given the name 'zombie frog' because of the appearance of the researchers after digging in the mud for hours. Little is actually known about the species itself, besides its nocturnal tendencies and physical features. Sadly Ernst believes that the zombie frog is nearing extinction. Amphibians are great indicators of environmental problems because of how sensitive they are to their surroundings, because of this up to seventy percent of amphibians are threatened with extinction. The amazon rainforest is struggling with this because of how much humans are abusing the wildlife. Industrial interests are tearing the forest up for resources including poaching, timber extraction, mining, and much more. Amphibians are dying because of decreased water quality, disease, habitat destruction and more in not only the Amazon but around the world because of humans ecological footprint.
Why we should care? Although this article isn't about a drastic issue that is affecting the entire world it is still an important topic in the fact that it reveals how little of the world is understood even by the most experienced scientists.
I found this article interesting because of how unique the species discussed is. I think as a whole frogs are a very fascinating species and this new species of frog does not disappoint. The name 'zombie frog' grabs your attention right away and it's interesting to find out that scientists didn't name them after the way they act or look but instead named them that because of how they, the scientists, looked after searching in the mud for the frogs. The frogs behave unlike many of their kind in the way that they live most of their lives underground and the males of their species only call out during or right after heavy rainfall. Making them a very difficult species to find.
Science in Action.
Dr. Raffael Ernst is a Herpetologist at the Senckenberg Research Institute.
Dr. Raffael Ernst has over 100 publications of his own discoveries that span from discussion of certain endangered frog species to the Atlantic forest hotspot. Although Ernst is originally from Germany he travels the globe for his research. I think this is valuable because his published works are all from hands on experience and things that he has seen with his own eyes. As mentioned in my summary above he was the scientist who discovered the 'zombie frog'. The discovery of new species is valuable to the science community because it gives us another glimpse of all the life that our Earth can sustain.