This glass frog wears its heart for all to see

A newly discovered glass frog from Ecuador’s Amazon lowlands is giving researchers a window into its heart.

Hyalinobatrachium yaku has a belly so transparent that the heart, kidneys and urine bladder are clearly visible, an international team of researchers reports May 12 in ZooKeys. Researchers identified H. yaku as a new species using field observations, recordings of its distinct call and DNA analyses of museum and university specimens.

Yaku means “water” in Kichwa, a language spoken in Ecuador and parts of Peru where H. yaku may also live. Glass frogs, like most amphibians, depend on streams. Egg clutches dangle on the underside of leaves, then hatch, and the tadpoles drop into the water below. But the frogs are threatened by pollution and habitat destruction, the researchers write. Oil extraction, which occurs in about 70 percent of Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, and expanding mining activities are both concerns.


J.M Guayasamin et al. A marvelous new glassfrog (Centrolenidae, Hyalinobatrachium) from Amazonian Ecuador. ZooKeys. Vol. 673, May 12, 2017, p. 1. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.673.12108.

J. Lessman et al. Large expansion of oil industry in the Ecuadorian Amazon: biodiversity vulnerability and conservation alternatives. Ecology and Evolution. Vol. 6, July 2016, p. 4997. doi: 10.1002/ece3.2099.

Further Reading

S. Milius. Glass frog moms do care after all. Science News. Vol. 191, April 29, 2017, p. 16.

S. Milius. Piggybacking tadpoles are epic food beggars. Science News. Vol. 189, April 16, 2016, p. 4.

S. Milius. Abandoned frog eggs can hatch early. Science News. Vol. 185, May 31, 2014, p. 10.

S. Zielinski. Mama frog’s care includes gift of poison. Science News Online, March 24, 2014.


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