Using a technique more common in forensic science than taxonomy, a grad student identified a new frog of Madagascar.
From Discover Magazine:
Taking an integrative approach to taxonomy (versus the traditional and still-common practice of relying solely on morphology), Scherz examined genetics, morphology, and a technique that’s still cutting-edge for distinguishing species: CT scans. Wrapping the frog in alcohol-drenched paper (don’t worry, it was long dead) and shooting X-ray beams at it while rotating its position, Scherz was able create 3-D computer images of its skeleton while not destroying any of the tissue.
The non-invasive method allowed Scherz to see subtle but crucial skeletal features (such as the length of a segment of the thumb bone) that were critical for recognizing the rhombus frog as a new, unique species.
The CT technology also enabled him to see the frog’s last meal (or perhaps last several), revealing a millipede, six ants, a spider, a fly, and at least three different species of beetle in its stomach and large intestine. It’s no wonder Scherz named it vaventy, the Malagasy word for “huge,” in the paper describing the find, published in Zootaxa.
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