Lost rainbow toad rediscovered after 87 years

Lost rainbow toad rediscovered after 87 years

The Bornean spindly-legged rainbow toad (Ansonia latidisca), which was last seen in 1924, had been listed as one of the world's top 10 most wanted lost frogs, or those that hadn't been seen in at least a decade.

Until this rediscovery, scientists had only seen illustrations of the mysterious and long-legged toad existed, after collection by European explorers in the 1920s.
"When I saw an email with the subject 'Ansonia latidisca found' pop into my inbox I could barely believe my eyes," said Robin Moore of Conservation International, adding that an attached image proved the unbelievable finding.

"The species was transformed in my mind from a black and white illustration to a living, colorful creature," Moore, who launched the 'Global Search for Lost Amphibians' campaign, was quoted as saying by LiveScience.

Three individuals of the missing toad, including an adult female, adult male and a juvenile, were documented up three different trees in Penrissen -- a region outside the protected area system of Sarawak which is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo.

The toads ranged in size from 30 mm for the juvenile to 51mm for the adult female. All three sported long, skinny limbs and bright skin pigments.

Initial searches by Indraneil Das of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak and colleagues took place during evenings after dark along the high rugged ridges of the Gunung Penrissen range of Western SarawakThe first few months proved fruitless; so the team decided to include higher elevations in their search. And one night last August, one of Das' graduate students Pui Yong Min found one of the three gangly toads up a tree.

If you want to see newly rediscovered frog, however, it's probably best to look at the photos, as Das has said he won't divulge the exact site of the rediscovery right now, owing to the intense demand for brightly-colored amphibians by those involved in the pet trade.

The effort was part of the global search for lost amphibians by Conservation International, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Amphibian Specialist Group, with support from Global Wildlife Conservation.

The large search involved 126 researchers who scoured areas in 21 countries, on five continents, between August and December 2010.

The hope was to determine whether the lost amphibians had survived increasing pressures, such as habitat loss, climate change and disease -- a fungus that causes the infectious disease chytridomycosis is devastating amphibian populations worldwide.

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