Saturday, 8 March 2014

Panama: January 2010 (part 6)

Part 1 - Gamboa lowlands and Pipeline Road
Part 2 - Road-cruising and night-hiking at El Valle de Anton
Part 3 - More from El Valle de Anton
Part 4 - Creek-walking in El Valle de Anton
Part 5 - A brand new species for science!
Part 6 - Snakes and interesting frogs at El Valle de Anton
Part 7 - Night-hiking at El Valle de Anton
Part 8 - El Cope
Part 9 - El Cope, again
Part 10 - Back to El Valle de Anton
Part 11 - Night-hiking at Pipeline Road

The Crowned Treefrog, or Spiny-headed Treefrog, is one of the coolest looking frogs found in Panama. It is a large treefrog that is beautifully patterned with black, tan, and white, but the best distinguishing feature, and the one thing that sets it apart from other frog species in the area, is the presence of several large spines protruding up from the hind-crown!

I did not think that I had much of a chance of seeing this species on our trip as they live high in the canopy for most of the year, hanging out in bromeliads.

I can't recall the specifics of when we found one, but I do remember marveling over the really strange looking frog. Throughout the course of our trip, we came across several of them!

Anotheca spinosa - Spiny-headed Treefrog

Anotheca spinosa - Spiny-headed Treefrog

We did come across several other snakes throughout our time night-hiking in El Valle. Imantodes is a genus of snake containing seven species, commonly known as vine snakes or tree snakes. These arboreal lizard eating specialists are remarkably thin - so much so that they appear anatomically impossible! The Blunt-headed Treesnake is probably the most widespread of this genus. One night I glimpsed the unique slender shape of one cruising some low-level branches. We caught it and photographed it the next morning before release.

Imantodes cenchoa - Blunt-headed Treesnake

Imantodes cenchoa - Blunt-headed Treesnake

Future Imantodes cenchoa food....

Norops limifrons - Slender Anole

The Dipsas genus also contains slender, mostly arboreal species as well. Most Dipsas species prey on snails and slugs! During one night-hike, Mario came up with a great find as he noticed this Dipsas temporalis. Very little is known about this species and it was a fantastic find for El Valle.

Dipsas temporalis

Dipsas temporalis

Moving back to frogs for a moment. Chytridiomycosis is an infectious disease in amphibians caused by a zoosporic fungus. In recent years, prevalence of this fungus has exploded in the tropics, causing massive extinctions in certain areas. One species hit hard by the "chytrid fungus" is La Loma Robber Frog (Pristimantis caryophyllaceus). Once common in several localities in Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia, it has disappeared from many of the areas where it was once common. One key ID feature is the sharp tubercles on the heels.

Pristimantis caryophyllaceus - La Loma Robber Frog

Part 7 will include the last of our night-hiking adventures in El Valle.

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