QUITO-Scientists have discovered a remarkable new species of glass frog whose beating heart can be seen right through its chest.

The creature, found in the Amazonian lowlands of Ecuador, has green spots across its back and a ‘red heart fully visible’ underneath, thanks to the transparent membrane around its organs. While it isn’t the only see-through species in existence, scientists say its markings, unusual call, and reproductive behaviour set it apart from the rest – but, they warn it may be in danger, as oil extraction and other human activities threaten its habitat. Scientists have placed the newly discovered frog in the genus Hyalinobatrachium, which are known to share some of its extraordinary traits. ‘All species in this genus have a completely transparent ventral peritoneum, which means that organs are fully visible in ventral view,’ researchers explain in a new paper, published to ZooKeys.

‘The reproductive behaviour is also unusual, with males calling from the underside of leaves and providing parental care to egg clutches.’ But, the new species, H. yaku, stands out with its dark green spots and atypical reproductive behaviours. ‘I work with frogs every day and this is one of the most beautiful species I have ever seen,’ Juan Guayasamin, of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, in Ecuador, told New Scientist.­­

And, while other frogs in the genus Hyalinobatrachium may have transparent features, not all have a bright red heart like that observed in the new species. Not all glass frogs have hearts that are visible through the chest,’ Paul Hamilton, of the US non-profit the Biodiversity Group, told New Scientist.

‘In some, the heart itself is white, so you don’t see the red blood.’

Given their habitat in the Amazonian lowlands, though, the researchers warn that these frogs are at risk.

Scientists have placed the newly discovered frog in the genus Hyalinobatrachium, which are known to share some of its extraordinary traits. The frog Hyalinobatrachium pellucidum is shown above. Scientists have placed the newly discovered frog in the genus Hyalinobatrachium, which are known to share some of its extraordinary traits. The frog Hyalinobatrachium pellucidum is shown above. Oil extraction and the resulting road development could destroy their habitat and create barriers between nearby populations, preventing their dispersal and interaction.