Andinobates geminisae: Discovered by their Distinct Call

A detailed topographical map highlighting Donomo Panama where Anidobates were recently discovered

Exploring the Rich Biodiversity of Panama


In the lush rainforests of Panama, a discovery has brightened the already vibrant tapestry of wildlife: the Andinobates geminisae. This recently identified poison dart frog species adds a splash of bright orange to the diverse hues of Panama’s amphibian population.  To read the original article, please see this Link

Summary of Andinobates geminisae

Physical Characteristics

  • Size: Tiny, with a snout-vent length of 11.63 – 13.63 mm.
  • Skin Texture: Smooth on the backside, grainy on the back areolates.
  • Eyes and Snout: Eye length exceeds slender snout length. Rounded snout with outward-facing nostrils.
  • Tympanum: Average-sized, slightly visible.
  • Head: Equal length and width, with head length being 31% of snout-vent length.
  • Vocal Slits: Located between the jaw articulation and tongue.

Limb Features

  • Fingers: Moderate size, with varying lengths: 1 < 2 < 4 < 3.
  • Palmar Features: Has palmar and thenar tubercles; lacks supernumerary tubercles and fringes.
  • Hind Legs: Length from heel to knee is 43% of snout-vent length.
  • Toes: Varying lengths: 1 < 2 < 3 < 5 < 4, with elongated inner metatarsal tubercle.

Coloration and Differentiation

  • Color: Uniform chrome orange, with variations in certain parts like bluish grey toes and pale grey subarticular tubercles.
  • Comparison with Other Species: Differentiates from similar species through color, skin texture, and call frequency. Closely related to Oophaga pumilio and O. vicentei, but differs in size, color, behavior, and call duration.

In Preservative

  • Color Changes: The color changes to light grey on the dorsal side, reddish grey on limbs and head, and hazel with lavender spots underneath.

Sexual Dimorphism

  • Size Difference: Females are slightly larger than males, averaging about 13.2 mm in length.

This species, Andinobates geminisae, stands out with its distinct coloration and vocal characteristics, contributing significantly to the diverse amphibian population in its native habitat.

Source Amphibiaweb

An illustration of an explorer in a dense rainforest, hearing the sound of a small orange Andinobates frog hidden under leaves.

A Unique Call Leads to a Remarkable Discovery

The journey to discovering Andinobates geminisae began with its unique call, distinct enough to pique the interest of researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí, and Universidad de los Andes. This call led them through the dense undergrowth of Donoso, Panama, to a discovery that was as visually striking as it was scientifically significant.

DNA Sequencing Confirms a New Species

What set Andinobates geminisae apart was not just its vivid coloration or its distinctive call, but also its genetic makeup. Through meticulous DNA sequencing, researchers confirmed that this was not just a variant of an existing species, but a completely new addition to the poison dart frog family.

How It Works: DNA sequencing involves extracting and amplifying the frog’s genetic material, using advanced techniques like Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS). These methods allow scientists to read and analyze the genetic code of the frogs in detail.

Why It Matters: This genetic analysis is crucial for distinguishing new species from known ones. It helps in understanding the evolutionary relationships between different species and plays a key role in conservation efforts, especially for species that are vulnerable or endangered.

Recent Advancements: The field of DNA sequencing has seen rapid advancements, with NGS revolutionizing the speed and scale at which genetic analysis can be conducted. This technology has made it feasible to sequence whole genomes, providing comprehensive insights into the genetic makeup of species.

Implications for Conservation: For frogs like Andinobates geminisae, which are facing threats from habitat loss and diseases, DNA sequencing provides essential data for conservation strategies. It helps in understanding their genetic diversity and resilience, informing efforts to protect these vibrant but vulnerable creatures.

An illustration depicting the DNA sequencing of a very small orange frog. The image should show a detailed representation of DNA sequencing|

Facing Challenges: Habitat Loss and the Pet Trade

Despite the excitement surrounding its discovery, Andinobates geminisae faces significant challenges. With a limited habitat range, this species is vulnerable to the dual threats of habitat loss and the illegal pet trade. These factors place it at risk even in the relative seclusion of Panama’s forests.

A Tribute to Support in Science

In a touching tribute, the frog was named Andinobates geminisae in honor of Geminis Vargas, the wife of one of the co-authors. This naming celebrates not only a new scientific discovery but also the invaluable support behind scientific endeavors.

Conservation Efforts: A Proactive Approach

Recognizing the fragility of this new species, conservationists have taken proactive steps to ensure its survival. Andinobates geminisae has been included in a captive breeding program, a vital initiative considering the global threat of amphibian chytrid fungal disease. This disease has decimated amphibian populations worldwide, making conservation programs like this more crucial than ever.

A Beacon of Hope

The discovery of Andinobates geminisae is more than just a scientific achievement; it’s a beacon of hope and a reminder of the endless mysteries hidden within nature. As we learn more about this new species, we are reminded of our responsibility to protect these fragile ecosystems and the diverse life they support.

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