Finding new species may call to mind images of scientists tracking
mysterious footprints in the mud or cutting paths through the dense
But sometimes, a discovery is as easy as getting a frog to open its mouth and say, “Ah.”
Such is the case for Lenomyrmex hoelldobleri, a new tropical ant species found in the belly of a diablito, or little devil frog (Oophaga sylvatica), in Ecuador.
The diablito, a kind of bright orange poison frog, is known for its love of ants, says Christian Rabeling, a myrmecologist at the University of Rochester, New York. The new ant species is named after Bert Hölldobler, a German evolutionary biologist and ant expert, for his 80th birthday.
Because ant-eating frogs go hunting for bugs in tiny and
hard-to-access places, scientists use them as a tool to go where they
can’t go. By capturing a wild frog and flushing their stomachs, the amphibians vomit whatever is in their bellies—revealing potential treasures, like the new ant.