News round-up November 2017

by Berglind Karlsdóttir - December 1, 2017

Here is your collection of fascinating amphibian news from around the world, selected from the past three months in the press.

If you’re a herp lover, you already know the first news story of this round-up, because it’s been going viral! Jackson’s climbing salamander has been rediscovered after it’s disappearance in Guatemala in 1975. It is the first species in the “search for lost species’ top 25 most wanted” to be found. Global Wildlife Conservation launched the campaign after the success of Conservation International’s “Search for lost frogs”. The initiative tells compelling stories of species thought to be extinct and in some cases rediscovered. This was the just case for the Jackson’s climbing salamander, which was found in the same forest from where it disappeared along with two other elusive species of salamanders; the Finca chiblac salamander and the long-limbed salamander. All three species have now been found and live safely in the forest which has been a protected area since 2015, named the Finca San Isidro Amphibian Reserve. 

Darwin’s frogs are facing extinction. This is the conclusion of a newly published paper which you can read here. The species may have been infected by the deadly chytrid fungus for years, but appeared not to be affected as the population remained stable and mass mortalities were not observed. The new findings however show clear declines in the species. the Darwin’s frogs are the last remaining species of frogs which carry their tadpoles in their bodies (in this case, their vocal sacs) until they develop to froglets. The 1980’s similarly saw the extinctions of two species of gastric brooding frogs from Australia, which would swallow their eggs and rear them in their stomachs. All hope is not lost for this species, as captive breeding facilities in Brazil have been able to successfully reproduce other species of amphibians. 

Have you ever heard of Beelzebufo ampinga, or commonly named the devil frog? Neither had I! The species was described in 2008, but has been extinct for 65-70 million years. Researchers measured the power of the bite of the devil frog’s living relative, the American horned frog, in a paper which you can read here. Scaling up the results to fit the devil frog, they concluded that the bite would have been powerful enough for the species to munch on juvenile dinosaurs. The devil frog was 41 cm long and 15 cm wide, which is roughly just 10 cm wider than the largest living frog today, the Goliath frog. That makes me wonder how small juvenile dinosaurs used to be?

Below is a photo of a beautiful small-headed tree frog to ease you into December.