New Frog Species Discovered in USA!

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 21st, 2008

cajun chorus frog

Finding a new species is always exciting. Making a discovery in the USA is downright remarkable. But it’s been done, and the new frog shown above, the Cajun chorus frog (Pseudacris fouquettei) can be added to the amphibian hall of fame. This one was found in Ripley County, Missouri.

Writing in the Kansas City Star reporter Bill Graham details the discovery in his article, “Researchers with KU ties identify a new type of frog”.

Joseph T. Collins, a retired KU herpetologist who, with three proteges, wrote a paper about the frogs.

“The pinnacle in science is discovery,” said Collins, 68, of Lawrence. “The peak is finding a new living thing on earth. Even more cool is that we found it in the United States, which has really been picked over.”

collins field guide

In 1992, a 13-year-old turtle and frog fanatic knocked on the door of Collins’ office.

She wanted his autograph on A Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians of Eastern & Central North America (Peterson Field Guide Series) that he wrote.

“It was a big deal to me at the time,” said Emily Moriarty Lemmon, now 29. “I was so excited and astonished.”

Collins became her mentor. After Lemmon graduated from St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., Collins guided her to the University of Texas, where one of his former KU students, David C. Cannatella, led research.

Lemmon studied how chorus frog species evolve. She also met and married Alan R. Lemmon, a theoretical biologist who helps her chase frogs.

In 2001 near Baton Rouge, La., Emily Lemmon waded through ditches on a rainy night to collect chorus frogs for DNA testing.

“It was the very first night of my very first field trip,” she said.

Lemmon said she was surprised when tests showed the frogs’ DNA was different from that of other chorus frogs.

“At that point, I started getting excited,” she said.

So Lemmon called Collins.

“I knew the work was just beginning,” Collins said of proving the new species.

The foursome spent years collecting chorus frogs in the field or sorting specimens sent by other researchers.

Lemmon analyzed DNA and mating calls.

Her husband spent a summer measuring body parts and the markings on 800 frogs from across the country.

They found differences, and the four researchers collaborated on a paper that appeared in a January edition of Zootaxa, a scientific journal.

“It’s pretty exciting, especially since the U.S. has been studied so well,” Lemmon said.

Read more here.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

10 Responses to “New Frog Species Discovered in USA!”

  1. red_pill_junkie responds:

    What an amazing story!

    What an amazing discovery!


    Oh!… excuse me, I’m still recovering from the eclipse 🙂

  2. Bob Michaels responds:

    Diligence pays off, congratulations!

  3. eireman responds:

    It would seem its discovery has come just in time when you factor in the way frogs and toads are inexplicably dying off in recent years.

  4. Saint Vitus responds:

    It is very exciting to hear of a new frog species being discovered in the US! I am not surprised that it is a kind of chorus frog, these frogs are very secretive.

  5. SOCALcryptid responds:

    I get excited when a new species is discovered. I enjoyed reading the above post but Why do people think it is remarkable to find something new in the States. I think there are a lot of things yet to be discovered here in the United States and through out the world. We as humans are arrogant to think we just about discovered everything. In fact there are less people out in our forests and wild places here in the U.S. than in centuries past. We do not have Native Americans following seasonal routes anymore. We have less fur trappers,prospectors and mountain men wandering around in wild lands. Now we have big cities, towns and highways to go about our daily lives. My point is there are less people today out in our wild unexplored areas than ever before. Meaning less chance of discovery. There has been a explosion of new species being found in the past few years because of funding and more people are now going deeper out in the field than in years past.
    Well thats my two cents for the day. Thanks for the post Loren.

  6. SOCALcryptid responds:

    Also a frogs health can tell us about it’s environment. Lets hope this species is in good health and not full of toxins or on the verge of extinction.

  7. mystery_man responds:

    SOCALcryptid- I agree with you. I also think there are likely plenty of new species yet to be discovered not only in the United States, but in North America as a whole. While it has been relatively well studied, there are still in my opinion isolated areas that could hold some surprises. Also, you never know where a new species that has evaded detection is going to pop up. I think it is a little too soon to say that we’ve studied the continent to the point that there’s nothing left to find. And you are very right about amphibians being a gauge of environmental health, since they are especially sensitive to pollution and other changes to their ecosystem. I’ve said it here before that they are sort of like the canary in the cage for miners when it comes to impending environmental problems like pollution or climate change. Finding a new species of frog in good health is not only an exciting discovery, it is sign that the environment of that area is probably in pretty good shape which can only be a positive thing.

  8. Point Radix responds:

    Is this an altogether new species or just new to the US (and existing somewhere else)? There are many ways for amphibians to be accidentally dispersed. Natural expansion (or shifting) of the ranges of species is also a possible consequence of climatic change.

  9. SOCALcryptid responds:

    mystery_man, I agree about North America as a whole. In the Northern Territory there are so many lakes, streams, forested areas etc. that have not been explored. Numerous lakes as you know are only accessible by a Float Plane. Globally we have only scratched the surface. That’s for sure. It has been exciting and informative reading all the new species being discovered here on Cryptomundo. mystery _man, your comments are informative as are other regular bloggers on this site. Thanks

  10. DWA responds:

    Echoing other comments here: the USA hasn’t been combed over nearly as much as people – unfortunately, scientists in particular – think.

    Most people seem to think we expanded and expanded and covered the continent, leaving only little woodlots and natural oases protected as parks and wildernesses. What has actually happened is:

    1) We’ve sent tendrils all over. Our expansion has been by drawing lines, not blanketing the continent from end to end. We’ve flat missed a lot in this process.
    2) In some places, lots of tendrils connect and people collect at those junctions (cities and towns).
    3) We’ve actually withdrawn from huge acreages (what used to be individual small farms and small settlements, much of which land has begun to revert to a natural state). There’s more forest in the East now than there was at the time of the American Revolution, for example.
    4) We’ve virtually extirpated what was a very large native human population that was here when we first arrived – and knew much that we simply didn’t listen to or record because we knew more than they did.
    5) Evolution continues. This new species of amphibian could have evolved very recently – in our national history, not in geologic terms.

    It’s particularly disheartening to me that this discovery – which seems to me rather routine – is being trumpeted, and by people who should know much better, as amazing. Because the clear implication is that we know virtually everything else.

    We’re not close.

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