'Flasher' frog found hidden in Australian swamp

media captionAustralian frog species found that 'flashes' enemies

A rare species of frog which startles predators by flashing its bright orange groin has been discovered in swampland on Australia's east coast.

Not much bigger than a human fingertip, Mahony's Toadlet has a distinctive marbled underbelly.

The species was discovered by accident not far from the airport at Newcastle, 160km (100 miles) north of Sydney.

The tiny amphibian has been named after Professor Michael Mahony, a renowned frog expert and conservationist.

image copyrightUniversity of Newcastle
image captionDr Simon Clulow discovered the new species several years ago

University of Newcastle researcher Simon Clulow made the discovery several years ago, but it is has just been made public in the scientific journal Zootaxa.

Dr Clulow said the frog's ability to camouflage itself is probably why it remained hidden for so long.

"Unfortunately, because the frog only seems to occur in these coastal sand-bed swamps in quite a restricted distribution it means that it's probably under threat from things like coastal developments," he said.

Not to be confused with a toad, the native Australian frog species has glands on its back similar to toads found in Europe and the America.

Its unique black-and-white belly and orange groin made it immediately recognisable as a new species.

"The idea is that as he leaps away his legs shoot out and there's this brilliant flash of colour and that supposedly startles the predator," Dr Clulow said.

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