Due to numerous factors—including habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, and chytrid fungus—amphibians are probably the most threatened taxon in the world, with more than one-third of species at risk of extinction.
“Tragically, amphibians tend to be the overlooked members of the animal kingdom, even though one in every three amphibian species is currently threatened with extinction, a far higher proportion than that of bird or mammal species,” said Dr Jonathan Baillie, head of the EDGE organization which has just established an amphibian conservation program.
To help save these species on the brink, EDGE, a part of the Zoological Society of London, has compiled a list of the hundred most threatened and evolutionary distinct amphibians.
For this year, EDGE has chosen ten amphibians to receive immediate conservation attention:
- The Chinese giant salamander can reach five feet in length, making it the world’s largest amphibian.
- The Sagalla caecilian is a limbless amphibian resembling an earthworm.
- Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis is a purple-pigmented frog that was only discovered in 2003. It is the only member of the first new frog family discovered since 1926. It remained hidden from science for so long, because it spends the majority of the year buried twelve feet underground.
- The six species of ghost frogs from South Africa, one of which lives only in the traditional burial grounds of Skeleton Gorge in Table Mountain.
- The Olm is a blind salamander that lives in water caves in Europe. It hunts for its prey by smell and electrosensitivity and has proven in controlled experiments that it can survive without food for an astonishing 10 years.
- The lungless salamanders of Mexico breathe through their skin and mouth lining.
- The Malagasy rainbow frog lives up to its name with its vibrant markings and possesses the unique ability to climb vertical surfaces.
- The Chile Darwin’s frog may already be extinct. It has not been seen since the 1980s. It is one of only two species in the family Rhinodermatidae. Unusually the father will collect their tadpoles in their mouth for protection.
- The Betic midwife toad from Spain, whose males carry fertilized eggs wrapped around their hind legs, evolved over 150 million years ago.
- The Gardiner’s Seychelles frog may be the world’s smallest frog. They grow up to 11mm in length—small enough to find a fingernail roomy.
Chinese Giant Salamander. Photo from the International Cooperation Network for Giant Salamander Conservation