Silverstone’s Poison Frog

Prior to the Silverstone’s poison frog’s official description in 1979 as Ameerega silverstonei, it was known under incorrect names, such as Phyllobates bicolor or Epipedobates silverstonei.

The Silverstone’s poison frog was discovered in the 1940’s during road construction across the Cordillera Azul on the Amazonian flank of the Peruvian Andes. John C. Pallister collected the first specimen in 1946 while on an entomological collecting trip for the American Museum of Natural History. The specimen was duly recognized as a new species of dendrobatid frog and set aside for description by Emmett Reid Dunn, then a research associate in the Museum’s Department of Amphibians and Reptiles, but the description never materialized as Dunn died in 1956 and the specimen languished in the unidentified collections. In 1954, a male frog with tadpoles on its back was caught and photographed by Edward S. Ross, an entomologist from the California Academy of Sciences. Unfortunately, Cochran misapplied the old name Phyllobates bicolor to the new frog.

In 1976, Philip A. Silverstone observed that the black-legged poison dart frog (Phyllobates bicolor) was restricted to the northern Andes of Colombia and it was therefore highly unlikely that the Peruvian Silverstone’s poison frog was related to the Colombian P. bicolor. Silverstone refrained from naming the species in deference to ongoing work.

In 1979, Charles Myers and John Daly proposed that the frog be named after Silverstone for making this distinction. The newly named silverstonei belonged to a group containing the type species of Dendrobates rather than to the demonstrably monophyletic group containing the type species (bicolor) of Phyllobates. The frog was first put in the genus Epipedobates and was known for some time as E. silverstonei. Presently, it is recognized as a member of the genus Ameerega and is now known as Ameerega silverstonei.

Image | ©️ Tiffany Kosch, All Rights Reserved
Sources | (Frost, 2013; Grant, et al., 2006; IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, 2018; Lakeland, Torres, & Rosenthal, 2010; Myers & Daly, 1979; The Wikimedia Foundation, 2020)


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