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The Cordillera Azul National Park has rightfully earned the name ‘jewel of the Peruvian Amazon’ and is situated in Peru’s forests between the Andes and the Amazon Basin. Its rich biodiversity is just one aspect being conserved by our work which protects 3.7 million hectares of forest landscape. The Cordillera Azul protects 28 High Conservation Value including the jaguar and harpy eagle. However, thanks to the project not only are current species being protected but new species never before recorded are being discovered by researchers. This summer has seen the naming of not one, but two new species within our treasured Cordillera Azul National Park, a bird and a frog.

In the canopy with a new bird

During expeditions in 1996 a unique, previously undescribed population of Machaeropterus (or manakin for those of us who don’t speak Latin and bird for those who aren’t bird enthusiasts) was encountered. This highly distinctive population was found once again four years later in another section of Cordillera Azul. When it was next detected on the 6th August 2003, researchers concluded these populations represented an unnamed group of birds and should therefore be classified as a new species.

This new species of manakin was found restricted to mountain ridges in a small region in Northern Peru with poor soil and humid woodlands. It resembles similar forms of manakins that are already known, however it differs in colour, form and most distinctively in its song. According to experts, this new species song is more persistent and sounds like a rising “chiWEE?” as opposed to the “DJEW!” and “cli-CHEW” of other manakins. Distinctive, right?

This species does not come into contact with any other type of manakin. It doesn’t currently face threats from humans because it prefers poor-soil environments, meaning this bird’s habitat is unlikely to be converted to agriculture which is great news for the new-found species.

It was suggested this Peruvian form of manakin (as opposed to the general Amazonian form) is far down the evolutionary trajectory, and therefore should be considered a separate species. And so the Machaeropterus eckelberryi, species novum or the ‘Painted Manakin’ came to be. And where does its name come from? The M. eckelberryiis named after the late Ronald R. Eckelberry, a great American bird artist of the twentieth century!

On the forest floor with a new toad

Rhinella lilyrodriguezae

The second species discovered is a new semiarboreal (meaning it spends some, but not all its life in trees) species of toad from the Rhinella festae group is found in mountain forests of the Cordillera Azul National Park. Because of its semiarboreal nature, it was observed climbing on leaves and branches approximately 1m above the ground. It was also found on the ground during the day close to moderately flowing water.

This new species is very similar to an already known species of toad – Rhinella acrolopha group. However, it differs with its characteristically large size and a plethora of morphological differences. The name given to this new species is Rhinella lilyrodriguezaeThe suggested English name is ‘Lily Rodriguez’s Beaked Toad’, and for our Spanish counterparts the suggested Spanish name is ‘Sapo picudo de Lily Rodriguez’.

These two new finds are proof that the rainforest is still harbouring hundreds of undiscovered species. Species that could hold the answer to a multitude of scientific and even medical questions. These species are now protected by the Cordillera Azul National Park, protected by Ecosphere+ and people like you. Support this work today!

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