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Thought-to-be-extinct frog rediscovered in Australia

Thought-to-be-extinct frog rediscovered in Australia

Thought-to-be-extinct frog rediscovered in Australia
September 11, 2008

Scientists have rediscovered a thought-to-be-extinct species of frog in a creek in Northern Australia. The find offers hope that some species have survived a fungal epidemic that has devastated the amphibians of Queensland.

The armored mistfrog was rediscovered accidently during a collecting trip in a remote part of Queensland. It was the first time the species had been seen since 1991.

“A lot of us were starting to believe it had gone extinct, so to discover it now is amazing,” Conrad Hoskin, a researcher at The Australian National University in Canberra who did the DNA analysis to confirm the frog’s identity, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “It means some of the other species that are missing could potentially just be hidden away along some of the streams up there.”

The armored mistfrog. Photo courtesy of James Cook University.

“It’s very significant,” added Craig Franklin, a zoology professor at The University of Queensland. “We’ve lost so many frog species in Australia … Hopefully it’s a population that’s making a comeback.”

The chytrid fungus has been blamed for decimating frog populations worldwide, including wiping out several species in tropical Queensland in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Among the most famous to disappear was the gastric brooding frog, a species that reared its young in its stomach and may have offered new ways to treat peptic ulcers in humans. The species was last seen in 1985.

Other research has shown that Australia’s tropical species face especially high risk from climate change.

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