Nov. 15, 2010 at 8:02 PM ET
When a team of scientists headed into the forests of western Colombia in September, they were hoping to rediscover a long-lost frog species that hadn't been seen in decades. They never did find the lost species -- but today they announced that they've come across three previously unknown species of amphibians.
The new species include a long-nosed beaked toad that can camouflage itself as a dead leaf, an only-somewhat-poisonous rocket frog with flashes of red on its legs, and a red-eyed frog that's so mysterious scientists don't know exactly how to classify it.
September's expedition involved scientists from Conservation International, the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group, Global Wildlife Conservation and Fundacion ProAves. Their aim was to find the long-lost Mesopotamia beaked toad, which hasn't been seen since the outbreak of World War I. The toad is described as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and it's on the "Ten Most Wanted" list in the "Search for Lost Frogs."
The scientists looked in habitats ranging from steamy rainforests to chilly cloudforests fo Colombia's Choco and Antioquia departments.
"After spending several days searching for the Mesopotamia beaked toad with no success, the team’s spirits were pretty low," Robin Moore, who organized the search, said today in a news release. "But finding these new species, including a new beaked toad, was like a shot of adrenaline. We definitely left on a high."
Here's how the species were described:
"Finding three new species in such a short space of time speaks to the incredibly rich biodiversity of these relatively unexplored forests, and highlights their importance for conservation," Moore said. "Protecting these habitats into the future will be essential to ensure the survival of both the amphibians and the benefits that they bring to ecosystems and people."
The "Search for Lost Frogs" campaign is meant to draw attention to the extinction threat that amphibian species face, as well as the role that they play in controlling insects, maintaining freshwater systems, and fueling the development of new drugs. Scientists are searching for long-lost species in 19 countries on five continents -- and in September, searchers announced that three "lost" species were rediscovered. The first phase of the campaign is due to continue through the end of 2010,
More species lost and found:
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