The very cute Wallace’s flying frog (Rhacophorus nigropalmatus) flits from one tree to another in the rain forest of Southeast Asia, seemingly able to fly. But in reality, the colorful amphibian is more of a glider than a flyer, ably assisted in its ability to travel a decent distance through the air by large webbed feet that act as sails before the wind.
The flying frog got its name from the 19th Century pioneer of evolutionary biogeography, field biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, who presented a drawing of the amphibian in his book The Malay Archipelago. Wallace is particularly famous for developing the theory of evolution contemporaneously with Charles Darwin.
A native of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, Wallace’s flying frog is generally a rarely encountered species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. “This is because it is only seen when it comes down from the trees to its breeding aggregations where it can be locally common,” IUCN says on the species profile page for the frog on its Red List of Threatened Species. Rhacophorus nigropalmatus is assessed as a species of Least Concern because it is widespread and abundant. Deforestation and further degradation of rainforest habitat constitute the most significant threats, according to IUCN. The small-scale pet trade of the species is not considered a threat to its survival in the wild.
More from National Geographic: Wallace’s Flying Frog page
There Is So Much More to Flying Frogs Than Flying (Scientific American)
The National Geographic Photo Ark is a multi-year project to photograph all species in captivity. Wallace’s flying frog is among them. To learn more about the Photo Ark, visit natgeophotoark.org,