Litoria mira, the world’s most delicious frog
Harry Potter fans know all about chocolate frogs, which are canonically sold at sweets shops in the wizarding world (and now in the Muggle world as well). But a team of Australian scientists recently discovered a real-life, non-magical version hiding out in the lowland rainforests of New Guinea: Litoria mira, otherwise known as the “chocolate frog.” Yes, he sounds delicious—but please do not eat him, for he is just a little baby. (See above for a photo of the baby.)
A release from Australia’s Griffith University explains that the closest known relative of Litoria mira is the Australian green tree frog. “The two species look similar except one is usually green, while the new species usually has a lovely chocolate colouring,” said researcher Paul Oliver, who co-authored a paper about the discovery in the Australian Journal of Zoology.
According to the release, Australian scientists discovered one of the chocolatey creatures in 2016, and they think the animal could be widespread across New Guinea. Oliver explains that the discovery of the frog has far-reaching implications, suggesting that Australia and New Guinea were once linked by land for much of the late Tertiary period 2.6 million years ago. That’s interesting because New Guinea is dominated by rainforest, while northern Australia’s habitat is mainly savannah. “Resolving the biotic interchange between these two regions is critical to understanding how the rainforest and savannah habitat types have expanded and contracted over [the] time of both,” Oliver said.
So, how did the little guy stay hidden for so long? “Because the frog lives in very hot, swampy areas with lots of crocodiles, all these things discourage exploration,” said Steve Richards, another of the paper’s co-authors. Personally, I’m glad the humble chocolate frog is getting the attention it deserves. Ecological implications aside, it’s comforting to know there’s a little Milk Dud hopping around out there in the rainforest.