'Extinct' species rediscovered after decades lost to science

Posted Sep 21, 2010 by Subir Ghosh
Scientists have rediscovered three "lost" amphibian species that had not been seen for decades, Conservation International (CI) and the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG) have announced.
Hyperolius Nimbae- has been found after 43 years. Re-discovered by Dr.N’goran Germaine Kouame  in ...
Hyperolius Nimbae- has been found after 43 years. Re-discovered by Dr.N’goran Germaine Kouame, in a swampy field in Danipleu, an Ivorian village near the Liberia border. The species is approximately 33 mm long.
Ngoran Germain Kouame / Conservation International
The three amphibians that have been rediscovered so far include a Mexican salamander not seen since it was discovered in 1941, a frog from the Ivory Coast not seen since 1967, and another frog from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) not seen since 1979.
The cave splayfoot salamander (Chiropterotriton mosaueri) had not been seen since the discovery of a single individual in 1941. Pink footed, it is a brown salamander that is believed to live underground in cave systems. Several were found in Hidalgo Province, Mexico by scientist Sean Rovito from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, in a cave system which is only accessible by abseiling down a large pothole.
The mount nimba reed frog (Hyperolius nimbae) was rediscovered in Ivory Coast. Small and well camouflaged, the brown frog was found by local scientist N'Goran Kouame from the University of Abobo-Adjame.
The Omaniundu reed frog (Hyperolius sankuruensis), found in the DRC, is a beautiful frog with bright green – almost fluorescent looking – spots on a dark brown background. It was rediscovered by Jos Kielgast from the Natural History Museum of Denmark.
Hyperolius sankuruensis - a reedfrog discovered in 1979 by R.F. Laurent. Jos Kielgast  a student at ...
Hyperolius sankuruensis - a reedfrog discovered in 1979 by R.F. Laurent. Jos Kielgast, a student at the University of Copenhagen, re-discovered the species 300 km west of the locality where it was first found in an extremely remote area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He discovered it while night searching areas of inundated primary forest along a tributary of the Congo River.
Jos Keilgast / Conservation International
Dr Robin Moore, who has organised the Search for the Lost Frogs for CI and the ASG said in a statement: "These are fantastic finds and could have important implications for people as well as for amphibians. We don't know whether study of these animals could provide new medicinal compounds – as other amphibians have, and at least one of these animals lives in an area that is important to protect as it provides drinking water to urban areas. But these rediscovered animals are the lucky ones – many other species we have been looking for have probably gone for good."
Dr Moore said, "It's pretty extraordinary to think about just how long it has been since these animals were last seen. The last time that the Mexican Salamander was seen Glen Miller was one of the world's biggest stars, while the Mount Nimba Reed Frog hasn't been seen since the year the Beatles released Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band and the Omaniundu Reed Frog disappeared the year that Sony sold its first ever Walkman."
The first phase of the Search for the Lost Frogs campaign will be continuing until the opening of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan in October, with further rediscoveries expected.
Chiropterotriton mosaueri –Last seen the year it was discovered in 1941  this salamander was re-di...
Chiropterotriton mosaueri –Last seen the year it was discovered in 1941, this salamander was re-discoverd nearly seven decades later in the caves of Durango, Hidalgo by Sean Rovito.
Sean Rovito / Conservation International
Habitat loss, disease and climate change have caused some species to vanish without a trace in a single breeding season; however, the status of many of the world’s amphibians is currently unknown due to limited and outdated research.
CI is supporting expeditions by amphibian experts in 18 countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia. Led by members of the ASG, the research teams are in search of around 40 species that have not been seen for over a decade. Although there is no guarantee of success, scientists were optimistic about the prospect of at least one rediscovery.