Rare 'Glass Frogs' With Transparent Stomachs Have Been Found in Bolivia for the First time in 18 Years

Conservationists have discovered a rare species of glass frog in Bolivia for the first time in 18 years.

A team of researchers told the AFP they found the three Bolivian Cochran frogs on January 8 in Carrasco National Park, near Cochabamba, where a hydroelectric project threatens local wildlife.

They were in the area on an expedition to rescue reptiles and amphibians vulnerable to the building work.

Glass Frog
A glass frog sitting on a leaf. Researchers have rediscovered a rare species of glass frog that has been missing in Bolivia for 18 years. webguzs/iStock

Glass frogs (or "ranas de cristal" in Spanish) are recognizable by their uniquely translucent undersides, which show off their internal organs. The skin is so so translucent is some species, you can see their heart beating.

They weigh between 2.5-2.8 ounces (70-80 grams) and measure 0.7-0.9 inches (19-24 millimeters).

Those found in Carrasco National Park are reported to have a white chest. The bones and vocal sacs of the males are described as a dark green.

Rodrigo Aguayo and Oliver Quinteros, from the Natural History Museum "Alcide d'Orbigny," and Rene Carpio of the San Simon University in Cochabamba were part of the team that made the discovery.

They told the AFP: "The rediscovery of this species fills us with a ray of hope for the future of the glass frogs—one of the most charismatic amphibians in the world—but also for other species."

Glass Frog
Glass frogs (like the Sachatamia albomaculata pictured) have translucent skin on their undersides that makes it possible to see their internal organs. Maria Ogrzewalska/iStock

Bolivia, and Latin America more generally, hold some of the richest ecosystems on the planet. According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Bolivia is one of the top 15 most bio-diverse countries in the world and at least 24 new vertebrate species have been discovered there since 2014.

While the country adopted The Law of Mother Earth in 2010, requiring citizens to "uphold and respect the rights of Mother Earth," species like the Bolivian Cochran frog remain under threat from habitat destruction and degradation.

According to Adrian Reuter, Latin American Wildlife Trafficking Coordinator for Wildlife Conservation Society, the expansion of commercial agriculture is a particular threat. Amphibians like the glass frog also have to contend with an infectious fungal disease (chytridiomycosis), which has been linked to dramatic population decline in amphibian species, in addition to the exotic pet trade.

Aguayo, Quinteros and Carpio's frogs have been taken to K'ayra amphibian conservation center at the Alcide d'Orbigny museum—where they'll be housed near Romeo (formerly the world's "loneliest frog") and Juliet.

Before Juliet and four other Sehuencas water frogs were discovered last year, Romeo was the last-known of his species. Efforts are currently underway to get the two to breed, but they have not yet proved successful.