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Researchers from Yale-NUS College and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences have discovered five new species of Southeast Asian frogs from a group of museum specimens that had long been considered to only contain two species. This research by lead author Yale-NUS College Assistant Professor of Science (Environmental Studies) Jennifer Sheridan and her co-author Dr Bryan Stuart, Research Curator of Herpetology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, was recently published in the peer-reviewed open access journal PLOS ONE. To distinguish the five new species of frogs from the original two, they examined close to 400 frogs housed in 11 natural history museum collections around the world and sequenced five genes from close to 350 individuals.
The discovery was made possible due to advances in techniques used to identify different species. Early biologists mainly used morphological characteristics, i.e. the organism's physical form and structure, to categorise individuals into different species. Now, biologists have access to more advanced techniques, such as DNA sequencing, to study samples at both the morphological and molecular levels. Dr Stuart said, "Nearly a century ago, the British herpetologist and physician Malcolm Smith noted that populations of the frog Sylvirana nigrovittata across mainland Southeast Asia tended to also differ in size and coloration, but those differences in appearance were too subtle for him to separate them into more than just two species using the techniques that...
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