New Species of Frog Discovered in Andes Named for Led Zeppelin

What do Led Zeppelin and a new species of terrestrial frog have in common? Well, their name, for starters.

In a paper published in the academic journal Neotropical Biodiversity on June 13, scientists David Brito-Zapata and Carolina Reyes-Puig revealed that they had named their amphibious discovery for the iconic British rock band. Formed in London in 1968, Led Zeppelin produced several of the most commercially successful songs in music history, including "Whole Lotta Love" and "Stairway to Heaven."

"The name honours Led Zeppelin and their extraordinary music," Brito-Zapata and Reyes-Puig wrote, crediting the band with the rise "of both hard rock and heavy metal."

Other celebrity singers and songwriters have been similarly recognized. In 2012, for example, Australian entomologists named a new species of horse fly for Houston-born artist Beyonce. In a statement, co-author Bryan Lessard said that it was "the unique dense golden hairs on the fly's abdomen that led me to name this fly in honor of the performer."

The newest addition to the Pristimantis genus, the frog is mere millimeters long. Its Latin name is Pristimantis ledzeppelin; its English one is Led Zeppelin's Rain Frog, according to The Guardian. Native to the cloud forests of the Cordillera del Cóndor, a little-studied stretch of the Ecuadorian Andes, it has "coppery-red" eyes and mottled olive skin, according to the study. In other words, it bears little resemblance to its namesake.

"Due to the high endemism of the Cordillera del Cóndor, the new species here described is likely to be found only in this restricted area, therefore it is important to consider new long-term initiatives for small vertebrate conservation actions," Brito-Zapata and Reyes-Puig wrote.

Thus far, the scientists have catalogued three specimens, two of which were males. They were found "on shrub vegetation surrounding streams inside mature forest, where they perched on bush leaves," Brito-Zapata and Reyes-Puig wrote.

While the frog is new to science, it may well already be endangered. Its range is likely isolated to a small triangle of forest in the Comunidad Río Blanco. One of the most "threatened ecoregions in the world," the tropical Andes faces possible decimation by local ranching, logging and mining initiatives, according to the study.

In May, scientists in Brazil announced that they had discovered another new frog species. Decidedly brighter in color than Led Zeppelin's Rain Frog, Brachycephalus rotenbergae is a shade of Day-Glo orange. Even its bones are fluorescent.

A tree frog sits on a leaf.
A green tree frog sits on a leaf. A new species of frog has been discovered in the Ecuadorian Andes and named for the iconic British rock band Led Zeppelin. CARLOS JULIO MARTINEZ/AFP/Getty Images