The researchers said in the study, released earlier this week, that the find regarding the South American polka dot tree frog is an “unprecedented source of pigmentation in amphibians.”
It is the first fluorescent amphibian to ever be discovered. Fluorescence has been seen before parrots and marine turtles, but is rare, they said.
“These findings open an exciting perspective into frog visual physiology and ecology and into the role of fluorescence in terrestrial environments, where classically it has been considered irrelevant,” they wrote.
3. The frog looks totally normal in average light. When the researchers shined the UV light on it, they were shocked to see its bright color.
“We couldn’t believe it,” Julián Faivovich, who co-authored the study, told Nature.
The scientists aren’t quite sure why this phenomenon exists, but told the magazine it could be to communicate or attract a mate.
Faivovich said he now hopes to find the trait in other species as well, and wants his colleagues to join in.
“I’m really hoping that other colleagues will be very interested in this phenomenon, and they will start carrying a UV flashlight to the field,” he told Nature.