Researchers have discovered shape-shifting frogs in the Ecuadorian Andes, it has been announced. The frogs are able to change the look of their skin within the span of a few minutes to imitate a surface they are sitting upon, making them what is thought to be the first amphibian discovered with such an ability. The species is called Pristimantis mutabilis, which means “mutable rainfrog”, and its shape-shifting revolves around the texture of its skin, which can go from mostly smooth to “high tubercular”.
The discovery was made by a PhD student at Case Western Reserve and her husband, a Cleveland Metroparks Natural Resources Division projects manager. Though the frog was the first believed to have been discovered with this shape-shifting ability, it no longer remains the only one. Another frog said to be related to the first has been discovered with the same skin-changing ability.
The frog itself doesn’t change its shape, of course. The ability is limited to its skin, though the changes — as shown in the image above — are certainly noticeable, and help the frog blend in with its surrounding environment, which is in the Reserva Las Gralarias in Ecuador.
The discovery was detailed in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean, and could mean that future identification efforts will require longer observation to ensure that a discovered creature isn’t in a morphed state. The discovery was made when attempting to photograph one of the frogs, which changed its skin texture when put onto a smooth background.