In 2015, for the first time in 18 years, a rare species of frog with translucent skin has been discovered in Bolivia. Three Bolivian Cochran frogs, so-called “glass frogs”, were seen living in Carrasco National Park, east of the city of Cochabamba, on the eastern slopes of the Andes, by conservationists that were part of a mission to rescue reptiles and amphibians whose habitat is threatened by a hydroelectric project.
Glass frogs have the size of a grape, weigh around 70 to 80 grams (2.5-2.8 ounces) and measure just 19 to 24 millimeters in length. They are a family of amphibians known for the translucent skin that can be found on their abdomen. And thanks to that, their internal organs can be seen through their bellies.
The glass frog has remained evaded for this long period of time, because of its remote location in the tropical Caribbean foothills of Costa Rica and because its mating call sounds just like an insect’s call – the scientists who discovered the frog described its call as “a single tonal long metallic whistle-like note.”
A member of the team, told AFP: “The rediscovery of this species fills us with a ray of hope for the future of the glass frogs – one of the most charismatic amphibians in the world – but also for other species.”
These rare frogs were handed to experts at the K’ayra amphibian conservation center at the Alcide d’Orbigny Museum in Cochabamba, who hope to breed the rare species as part of a conservation strategy.
Frogs are sensitive to changes in the environment because their skin is semi-permeable, they easily absorb any toxins present in the air and water, which usually happens to be fatal. As they have a verse of habitats, such as in water, on ground level or higher up on trees and leaves, also they are a good indicator species for judging the health and potential biodiversity of an area.
Because of the skin on its stomach that is so thin, glass frogs are particularly sensitive to environmental changes. Also, their preferred areas are with plenty of canopy cover due to the microclimate they provide, and so it is very unlikely to find them in a disturbed area. Most of these species can be found in Central America, especially in Costa Rica and Panama, even though a number of species are known to occur in South America, in countries such as Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.