Actually, it’s not QUITE as cool as it sounds.
This new frog species, the Vampire Flying Frog, was discovered in Vietnam by scientists from the Australian Museum. Rhacophorus vampyrus was a latecomer to the International Year of Biodiversity, which yielded a wealth of newly discovered creatures.
But the name. The name. To be honest, it reminds me of the ten shelves in every bookstore devoted to vampire teen fiction. I’m all for making science sexy, but seriously. In the paper it doesn’t even say “Vampire flying frog” as in the media release and all the news articles. It actually says “Vampire tree frog” which sounds less vampiric and more like it drinks tree sap or something.
The name makes a promise that the frog doesn’t deliver on. Now if the frog looked like THIS then I would applaud the name.
The Flying part is true enough. There are several species of tree frog that are called “flying frogs” because they can glide. It’s a good quality to have when you live up in trees. With larger hands and feet and extra webbing they can parachute through the air.
The Vampire part is… well… it’s neat. The tadpoles have fangs.
Normally tadpoles have beak-like mouth pieces, but this one has two black, hard fang-shaped appendages made of keratin (the same stuff as your hair.)
According to the scientists, it looks too big to be involved in feeding but might help the tadpole hold onto tree bark. The frog creates foam nests, laying its eggs in water-filled tree-holes.
More details on the tadpoles will be published in another report. The original report can be downloaded in pdf by clicking through the citation: Rowley, J. et al. (2010). A new tree frog of the genus Rhacophorus (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from southern Vietnam Zootaxa
Another cool thing about the frog is it changes colour. In daylight it’s a pale tan, but at night it’s stunning brick red. I don’t know if that’s a normal thing for tree frogs. Any herpetologists in the house?