Synapturanus danta by Germán Chávez

Chocolate frogs are an important part of the diet of young wizards and witches at Hogwarts. You can also buy chocolate frogs if you visit a Harry Potter theme park.

A team of scientists exploring the peatlands of the Amazon rainforest in Peru found chocolate frogs too. These frogs are neither imaginary nor made of chocolate. They are made of 100% real frog! 

Although these frogs were long known to exist by the local Indigenous people, they had not been recorded by scientists. 

“The frogs are tiny, about the size of a quarter,” said Michelle Thompson, a researcher in the Keller Science Action Center at Chicago’s Field Museum. Michelle was part of the team that found the new frog. 

A juvenille Synapturanus danta. Photo by Germán Chávez

The little frogs are shaped kind of like a shovel or trowel, with a wide body tapering to a pointy nose.  Researchers have named them the tapir frog because their snout looks like that of a rainforest animal called a tapir.

A newly described burrowing frog, Synapturanus danta, from the Peruvian Amazon has a tapir-like snoot and resembles chocolate. Photo by Germán Chávez

Tapir frogs live underground. Their body shape helps them burrow into the ground in their peatland home. A peatland is a wetland composed of slowly decaying vegetation.

While looking for reptiles and amphibians, the scientists heard an unfamiliar “beep, beep” call and leaped into action. “Suddenly we heard one of the males calling, from underground!!!” said Germán Chávez, a researcher at the Peruvian Institute of Herpetology. “I had to put my ear directly on the soil, touching it, to be able to locate where exactly this frog was calling from.”

The science team collected DNA from the tapir frogs. The genetic analysis and unique call of the frog lead them to conclude that the tapir frog is a new species. The scientists described the new frog species in a scientific paper. They gave it the scientific name of Synapturanus danta – danta is the Spanish word for tapir.

They may be called tapir frogs, but these little creatures really do look like they were dipped in chocolate!

For more on this story, read this article by Liz Kimbrough on Mongabay.com:

https://news.mongabay.com/2022/02/chocolate-frog-anyone-new-species-unearthed-in-amazon-peatlands/