Life

By Sophie Norris


A lucky toddler is celebrating with her scientist grandpa after he named an entire new species of frog after her.

The amphibian conservationist had spent 20 years researching the one species of frog, which he named after his three-year-old granddaughter Sylvia Beatrice Gray.

Andrew Gray, 54, claims Sylvia was ‘taken aback’ and excited by the Cruziohyla sylviae [Sylvia’s Tree Frog], which has a bright orange belly and black bars down its front.

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He claimed the frog is ‘so beautiful just like her’ and claims the pressure’s now on to find two more species to name after his other grandkids.

Andrew discovered the difference between the new species and the Cruziohyla calcarifer, the Splendid Tree Frog, after comparing them at Manchester University.

Andrew from Chorley, Lancashire, said: “It was amazing to introduce Sylvia to the Sylvia’s Tree Frog. She realises that it’s something very special.

“It’s fantastic –  it’s so beautiful just like her.

“It’s a really big species with bright colours which I think she likes. She was a bit taken aback.

“Sylvia Beatrice is only three so it’s a bit hard for her to understand, but she loves frogs and she’s quite intelligent for her age.

“She does understand a lot about animals and that species, she’s just excited about animals like I used to be.

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“For me, it’s something that’s very special and I like to know that one day when she gets older she’ll have an animal named after her.

“My son has a little boy, George, and my daughter just had a little girl called Aszouri too, so the pressure’s on to find two other entire species now.

“This has taken me all my life though so I’m not holding my breath.”

The Cruziohyla sylviae was initially mistaken for the same species as the Cruziohyla calcarifer, which was first discovered more than 100 years ago in Ecuador.

Sylvia’s Tree Frog was found in 1925 in Panama and taken to America, under the misunderstanding it was the same species.

After a trip to Ecuador two decades ago Andrew discovered the Cruziohyla sylviae and realised it was different, before dedicating the rest of his career to proving his theory.

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Andrew said: “The frog itself was first found in 1902 in Ecuador and taken back to the British Museum.

“In 1925 somebody found one in Panama and took that back to America.

“They presumed it was the same frog but never compared the two. Both frogs were considered the same species side by side.

“There was a confusion. I went to Ecuador and found the Sylvia’s Tree Frog 20 years ago and realised it was a different species.

“I did a lot more work focusing on this species of frog.

“We now have around eight in the museum. We’re the only institution in the world that has both species now.

“There are various different things that indicate they are different – their DNA, the look of them, the peptide on their skin.

“One has a calker on the end of its elbow, whereas the other doesn’t.

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“Another different is the size of the ear in comparison to the eye.

“On the calcarifer, the black bars only go half way down the body, whereas with the sylviae, they go all the way down.

“It’s hard to guess how many there are in the world but you’re looking at hundreds, rather than thousands.”

The incredible discovery has been applauded by Manchester Museum’s director, Esme Ward.

Esme said: “It’s a real privilege to be maintaining such rare frogs in our collection and supporting amphibian conservation around the planet.

“This multi-disciplined research highlights the importance of museum collections, where both live and historical specimens are aiding current taxonomy to make a real difference in shaping the future of wildlife conservation.”