Newly discovered rain frog named after climate activist Greta Thunberg

A newly discovered species of rain frog found in Panama has been named in honour of Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

The new species, called Pristimantis gretathunbergae, was found by an international team on Mount Chucanti, a sky island or isolated mountain range surrounded by lowland tropical rainforest in eastern Panama.

Described as having distinctive black eyes, which are a unique feature for Central American rain frogs, the researchers say finding the new species required travelling through muddy trails by horseback, hiking up steep slopes, bypassing two downed helicopters that had crashed in the area decades ago and camping above 1,000 metres above sea level.

The frog’s discovery and naming was published in the journal ZooKeys.

“Greta Thunberg represents the authentic voice that exposes the motivations behind the diplomatic curtain of politicians and business stakeholders,” the study’s authors say in their research paper.

“Her voice is essential if we want to revert to and maintain a healthy environment on the planet we all share, and not least, learn to respect its magnificent mega-diversity of life that took millions of years to evolve.”

Thunberg came to prominence for staging climate strikes outside of the Swedish parliament as a teenager. She later founded the youth-led movement Fridays For Future and has made a name for herself pressing world leaders to do more to combat climate change.

The decision to name the new frog after Thunberg began in 2018 when the Rainforest Trust, a U.S.-based organization working to protect endangered species, celebrated its 30th anniversary.

The Chucanti reserve, where the frog was first found, was created by the Panamanian conservation organization ADOPTA, with support from the Rainforest Trust.

The Rainforest Trust held an auction offering naming rights for some new species.

Wanting to honour Thunberg’s work, the auction winner decided to name the new frog after the young climate activist.

“The plight of the Greta Thunberg Rainfrog is closely linked to climate warming, as rising temperatures would destroy its small mountain habitat,” the researchers say in a news release.

They say the frog’s remaining habitat is “severely fragmented” and “highly threatened” by rapid deforestation for plantations and cattle pastures.

The Mount Chucanti region has already lost more than 30 per cent of its forest cover in the past decade, they add, while deadly chytrid fungus also poses a threat for amphibians.