Thrilling Discovery Of New Bullfrog Species After 104 Years

19 Apr 2024

It might not appeal to everyone, and it is doubtful if it will change into a prince once kissed, but the announcement of a new African bull frog species in Namibia on 03 April 2024, made international headlines!

It is the largest frog species discovered in 104 years, which makes this announcement so special.

Up to now, only three bullfrog species were known in southern Africa.

The largest specimen of the new species,  Pyxicephalus beytelli found, is 210 millimetres long and weighs an enormous one kilogramme!

The remoteness of its habitat, the Nyae Nyae pans in Namibia's Khaudum National Park seem to have delayed its discovery.

A researcher from South Africa's North-West University (NWU), Professor Louis du Preez said “We have discovered a new species of African bullfrog, called Pyxicephalus beytelli. This is only the fourth species of bullfrog ever identified in Southern Africa.”

The species occurs in parts of northeastern of Namibia, southern Angola, southwestern Zambia and northwestern Botswana.”

The new species of an African bullfrog. (Pyxicephalus beytelli)
Photo NWU

 

It is named after the late Ben Beytell, the director of parks and wildlife management in Namibia, who was instrumental in the proclamation of the Khaudum National Park in Namibia, where the species occurs.

Du Preez said the new species is similar to the other three species of bullfrogs in its anatomy and behaviour. However, two of the main distinguishing features of Pyxicephalus beytelli are its bright yellow and lime green colouring, blue spots and a white vertebral line running down its body. 

“Then there are its prominent and somewhat ferocious teeth, which are sloped backwards, and two large bony protrusions on the lower jaw. Their teeth really stand out,” says Du Preez. 

Bullfrogs feed on mice, small birds, snakes, insects, and even other frogs. Du Preez said. He and a former student Marleen Byron first encountered the new bullfrog some 12 years ago. 

In late 2021, he was commissioned by the Namibian Nature Foundation to conduct a survey of amphibians and reptiles in the Khaudum National Park. 

The scientific research on the new bullfrog species was then also carried out.

Bullfrogs hide during the dry season and appear after the first good rains, when shallow pans like in Khaudum and northcentral Namibia are filled with water.

 They are regarded as a delicacy by local Namibians.

Brigitte Weidlich

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