Mysterious Cryptic Creature Hunting for Food, Lurking Under Bridge in Ecuador Finally Investigated by Scientists

Mysterious cryptic creatures, previously thought to be unknown animals, were hunting for food and lurking under a certain bridge in Ecuador. Reports describe the apparent animals as large creatures that also sought out potential mates and remained hidden from road traffic above. Although they were misidentified before, the mystery seems to be over already. Now, scientists have finally investigated the identity of a cryptic creature in a new study.

The animals were mistaken as Mesoamerican cane toads (Rhinella horribilis). Instead, the lurking creatures in western Ecuador have been found to be a new species, called the beautiful cane toad (Rhinella bella), according to a research paper led by scientists from Ecuador and Canada. The discovery came after a group of researchers suspected the toads in this part of the South American country were something else.

Ecuador’s Cryptic Creature Revealed

Previously Unknown Cryptic Creature Hunting for Food, Lurking Under Bridge in Ecuador Finally Investigated by Scientists
(Photo : Photo by Mauricio Muñoz on Unsplash)

Findings about Ecuador’s cryptic creature was published in peer-reviewed Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society on February 2020. Through their research article, scientists have determined there is a previously unsuspected diversity within the Rhinella marina species group of giant cane toads, which includes the Mesoamerican cane toad. Such diversity was pinpointed in local toad populations in western Ecuador.

The misidentification occurred since R. horribilis and other toads within the group commonly occupy a vast range of habitats from west of the Andean Cordillera in Ecuador and northward to southern Texas in the United States. The authors of the study arrived at their conclusion by evaluating the western Ecuadorian toad populations and comparing them with DNA, morphological, bioacoustics, and environmental information.

Also Read: Martian Reptile? Facts About the Mysterious ‘Creature’ Allegedly Spotted on the Red Planet

Beautiful Cane Toad

Through their assessment, the research team found an emerging pattern, such as the toads in western Ecuador sounded different and had different physical features. This correlation has led to the team’s realization that they had discovered the new toad species R. Bella or the beautiful cane toad, as mentioned earlier. These new species are described as relatively large, measuring about 4 inches long, according to the researchers.

Furthermore, their bodies are also covered in bumps and the beautiful cane toads are entirely different from the Mesoamerican cane toads. Following the discovery, it is likely that follow-up research will be conducted on the new toad species, as well as other related animals that are waiting to be found.

In some instances, new animal species were first mistaken to be currently ‘described’ creatures in the taxonomic database, which zoologists and other scientists use to identify living and extinct animals. In the past, discoveries of new species were based on DNA analysis to determine if a creature’s genetic information matches with any known animals in the database. In the case of Ecuador’s mystery toads, scientists collected and analyzed dozens of them.

In January 2023, the United Kingdom’s Natural History of Museum reported that scientists discovered a new tortoise species after it was mistaken to be something else for a century through a Madagascan fossil.

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