SO BEAUTIFUL MANTELLAS!

I was already in the Vohimana Forest around 30 years ago. It was one of the first raiforests that I ever visited. I was so amazed and so astonished by the beauty of the forest itself, and by the kindness of people living there. At that time the forest was simply called “an’ala”, that in Malagasy just means “the forest”. Under this name I published one of my first papers on the amphibians of Madagascar. In fact, during that visit I found two really beautiful Mantella species, living in syntopy. They were Mantella pulchra and Mantella baroni. At that time the ultimate and correct Latin name of pulchra was not known, and it was named as Mantella cowani pulchra. These two species lived (and still live) together and have very similar colourations. Incidentally they are both toxic, but they belong to two different phylogenettic clusters and are not so closely related. Mantella baroni has sharp colouration of the back, and scattered blue spots on the belly. Mantella pulchra has a much golden head, has a horse-shoe shaped throat bluish belly and reddish marks on the underside of the thighs. I assumed, in my scientific naivity, that they were a good example of Müllerian mimicry. Both toxic and with similar renforcing colouration. It has been with a sort of nostalgy that I visited again Vohimana (or “an’ala”), and I looked again at Mantella pulchra in the almost untouched habitat there. No, Mantella baroni I did not find it. I heard it but I wasn’t able to spot it (the photo that I put here is from another site “Amalonabe”, not so far). Vohimana appears as a beautiful forest, and is a really nice place where to carry out future herpetological studies and education activities.

 

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