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A new species of frog has been found hiding in plain sight in New York City.
University scientists helped discover this new species with scientists from the University of Alabama. For years, biologists mistook the frog for a more widespread variety of leopard frog. This one, however, prefers not to stray far from the Big Apple and has an unusual croak. The frog lives in the city’s ponds and marshes, sometimes within view of the Statue of Liberty, so uncovering the frog’s true identity was a surprise for scientists. The frog is an entirely new species, the scientists determined by using DNA data to compare the new frog to all other leopard frog species in the region. The unnamed frog joins more than a dozen distinct leopard frog species. The newly identified wetland species likely once lived in Manhattan, but the amphibian’s range has since declined. It’s now only known from being identified in a few nearby locations: Yankee Stadium in the Bronx is the center of its current range. Scientists began suspecting that the frog was unusual because of its strange-sounding calls, which differ from the calls of other leopard frogs. Instead of the long snore or rapid chuckle heard from other leopard frogs, this frog had a short, repetitive croak, said study team member Jeremy Feinberg of Rutgers University in New Jersey. The newly identified frogs have so far been found in scattered populations in northern New Jersey, southeastern mainland New York and on Staten Island. Although they may extend into parts of Connecticut and northeastern Pennsylvania, and evidence suggests they were once common on Long Island, the frogs have since gone extinct in these areas.