Earth Day Reader: Costa Rican Translucent Frog Looks Like Kermit


Scientists have discovered a new species of frog in Costa Rica, and it’s being compared to Jim Henson’s most famous Muppet.

Brian Kubicki has been studying amphibians in Costa Rica for 17 years, dedicating thousands of hours to fieldwork in the country’s tropical rainforests. But he probably never expected to meet a celebrity frog in the process.

In a study published earlier this year in a major nature journal, the founder of the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center described a new species of frog, Hyalinobatrachium dianae. With its uniformly bright lime green skin and big white bug eyes with dark centers, it looks uncannily like Kermit the Frog.

Courtesy of Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center.

Courtesy of Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center.

Kubicki said that one of the things that most distinguishes H. dianae from other species of glass frog is also part of why it took so long to discover.

A new species of frog discovered in Costa Rica has such translucent skin on its underside that it’s possible to see its internal organs It is a type of glass frog, which are only found in regions of South and Central America. In this case, six specimens of the species have been found in the tropical wet forests of Costa Rica’s Caribbean foothills. The nocturnal creature is distinct from other species thanks to skin texture, coloring and the sound of its call.

The glass frog was discovered by zoologists working at the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center and has been detailed in a study published in the online journal Zootaxa. While bright green on top, the delicate frog’s transparent underside allowed the researchers to study the arrangement of the frog’s internal organs in detail. “The bulbous liver and digestive organs are covered in white peritonea. The heart and ventral vein are blood red. Lungs transparent, but with a network of red blood vessels. The gallbladder is transparent Sulphur Yellow,” they write.

Courtesy of Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center.

Courtesy of Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center.

The frog has been named in honor of the senior author Brian Kubicki’s mother Janet Diane Kubicki, and also Diana the Roman goddess of the hunt, wild animals and woodland. “This being in relation to our own ‘hunt’ among Costa Rica’s mountainous forests to better understand the amphibians dwelling within,” the authors explain.

Glass Frogs can be difficult to observe as they tend to inhabit vegetation high above streams and at sites with tough-to-navigate topography. The last glass frog described from Costa Rica was in 1973. The researchers believe the creature faces very limited human threats in the foreseeable future thanks to the fact that very few roads grant access to the area it inhabits.