It’s not every day that you can say that you were part of the history of science, but for Luke Kemp and I, a warm summer night in Hluhluwe of this year was just one of those days. In January of this year, Luke and I attended the Herpetological Association of Africa Conference of Africa in Northern Kwazulu-Natal. In addition to presenting our work and learning of the developments in the field of herpetology, we were lucky enough to meet some of the greats of African herpetology.
Two of these greats include Prof. Les Minter and Prof. Louis du Preez, both of whom feature in our two-part video mini-series on the HAA Conference 2017 on Youtube. Both Prof. Minter and Prof. du Preez are world-renowned frog experts, and when we first met them in Hluhluwe they were excited about a frog that they had recently found. It was a small frog from the genus Breviceps (rain frogs): this is the one that is featured in the interview with Prof. Les Minter, where he describes the genus and why he is so fond of the chubby little frogs. Prof. Les Minter was convinced that it was a new species of rain frog, and I am excited to say that, as of yesterday, the little frog in his hands, in the video below, is a new species. The frog has been named Breviceps carruthersi after Vincent Carruthers, a well known contributor to southern African amphibian research and co-author if the book ‘A complete Guide to the Frogs of Southern Africa’.
Breviceps carruthersi is actually one of two new species of Breviceps that were recently discovered from northern Kwazulu-Natal. The other species that will be referred to as Breviceps passmorei from now on, was named after another ‘great’ in the South African frog world: Neville Passmore. The descriptions of both new species of rainfrog can be found at: https://biotaxa.org/Zootaxa/article/view/zootaxa.4300.2.3/28717. The scientific article, which was released yesterday, was written by Minter, Netherlands and Du Preez. Whilst physically the frogs are difficult to distinguish, when you take into account genetic differences and call variation, the frogs are very easily distinguished from other rain frogs species in the area. This finding, which adds two new species to the diversity of South Africa’s herpetofauna, is a testament to what can be found when scientists look a little closer.
Skip to 3:30 for clip with Prof Les Minter and the new species of Breviceps