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Rare jewel-colored frog rediscovered in Colombia

A brilliantly-colored frog has been rediscovered 14 years after its last sighting in a remote mountainous region in Colombia.

The critically endangered Carrikeri Harlequin frog (Atelopus carrikeri), a member of a family of amphibians that has been decimated by the outbreak of a deadly fungal disease, measures about 2 inches (5 cm) in length and lives at an altitude of 13,000 feet (4,000 m).

“By discovering that the endangered frog still exists, we hope it will show how important conservation is,” said Luis Alberto Rueda, scientist for the Project Atelopus team who led the expedition. “And we plan to continue with our research so that we can better assist in helping to ensure that this frog will not become extinct.”

The Carrikeri Harlequin Frog (Atelopus carrikeri) found in the páramo habitat, a Neotropical grassland ecosystem located in high elevations between the upper forest line (about 3,100 m in altitude) and the permanent snow line (about 5,000 m). Nearly 57 percent of this ecosystem worldwide is found in Colombia. This population is unique since it possesses orange markings, which are unusual for this species. Image courtesy of the Conservation Leadership Program.

Harlequin frogs appear to be particularly at risk from the chytrid fungus that is killing amphibians around the globe: between the 1980s and 1990s, almost two-thirds of the 110 known harlequin frog species went extinct. Scientists say climate change and other habitat perturbations may be making frogs more vulnerable to infection.

The discovery was made by scientists with the Project Atelopus team, a group backed by the Conservation Leadership Program (CLP), a partnership between BP, BirdLife International, Fauna & Flora International, Conservation International and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

In addition to Rueda, team members included Oswaldo Cortes, Giovanni Chaves, Erika Salazar, Jose Gil, Sergio Pulido, Astrid Nossa, Fabian Tavera, Jenny Gallo, Ximena Villagrán and Nidia Rodriguez.


New poison frog species discovered in Colombia August 28, 2007
Scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of poison frog in a remote mountainous region in Colombia. The tiny frog has been dubbed the “golden frog of Supatá” and lives only in a 20 hectare area in Colombia’s Cundinamarca region

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