Described by the Zoological Society of London as ‘the world’s most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered amphibian species’, Archey’s Frog is one of only four remaining frogs native to New Zealand, the solo terrestrial species. Considered an ancient relic, the frog has barely changed from its 150 million-year-old ancestors. Indeed, the prehistoric NZ species themselves diverged from their closest relatives over 200 million years ago.
Archey’s Frog was only described for the first time in 1942, and today is found in only three areas of New Zealand’s North Island, relatively close to Auckland, and in tiny numbers. An active protection programme is in operation. This tiny master of camouflage is a mottled red, green and brown, and like fingerprints, can be used to identify individual animals.
It’s an amazing creature, full of unusual characteristics. It doesn’t have a tail, but has the muscles to wag one! They communicate using scent, because they have no ear drums, and cannot croak. After the female has laid the eggs, the male guards them until they hatch. After that, the froglets crawl on the male’s back, and remain there for several weeks. We sincerely hope the efforts to save this astounding frog are successful.