Extinct Amphibians

Extinct Amphibians
Welcome to the third article in our Extinct Reptiles and Amphibians series. Little is known about many of these extinct species. Some are not even available in pictures. These animals represent the continuing damage humans are doing to the land and the environment. Whether you think this damage is necessary or unneccessary, as reptile and amphibian enthusiasts, you surely morn the loss of every species driven to extinction.

In this article, we will take a look at three incredible amphibians that have not been seen in their native habitats in many years. The first is the Palestinian Painted Frog from Israel. The second is the Golden Toad from Costa Rica, and the last is the Yunnan Lake Newt from China. These three amphibians are from very different countries, but they have suffered very similar fates.

The Palestinian Painted Frog inhabited the areas surrounding Hula Lake which is just north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. The frog was last seen in 1955 when a single adult was collected. This last appearance occured fifteen years after work began to drain the area for the building of homes. An area of 300ha (of the original 6000ha) was set aside as a nature preserve in the 1960’s, but this gesture came too late to save the frogs. The only images of this frog appear to be drawings based on descriptions and eye-witness encounters.

The Golden Toad is a newer addition to the list of extinct reptiles and amphibians. The last recorded siting was in 1989. Its range was only a few kilometers atop a ridge in Monteverde, Costa Rica at elevations of 1,500-1,620m. The most notable thing about the extinction of this frog was that it was seen in normal numbers in 1987 but by 1988 only two females and eight males could be found! They were not breeding. Its breeding grounds were well known and have been vacated, so it is assumed to be completely extinct. Unfortunately, little else is known about the habits of this interesting frog.

The Yunnan Lake Newt hasn’t been seen since 1979. Females reached up to 16cm and makes reached up to 12cm. This largish species of newt was known to inhabit the shallow waters, irrigation channels, ponds, and marshes of the Kunming Lake and the surrounding areas in Yunnan, China. Its extinction is attributed to the introduction of foreign species of fish and animals, as well as pollution and habitat destruction. Of note about this species is its appearance. The striking contrast of the red spots and stripes against the dark body color make it an attention grabber. Of additional interest is that adults were often found to have vestiges of gills remaining. I’ve included a link in this article so you can see what an incredible specimen it must have been.

Today, we are faced with the losses of even more species as habitat becomes less and less available. One solution is to produce as little domestic waste as possible. Recycle everything we can possibly recycle. Use cat litter that is environmentally friendly. Buy organic and hormone-free foods as much as possible. Drive slower. It may not help you reach work on time, if you leave late, but driving slower will save you money on fuel and it’ll save the environment from a few more emissions. We may not be able to fix “progress”, but we can certainly slow it down.


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