Jumat, 20 Mei 2011

Pictures: See-Through Frog, Other "Lost" Species Found

See-Through Frog
Bursting with eggs, a pregnant frog with see-through skin is one of five "lost" amphibian species recently rediscovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
First described in 1950, Hyperolius leucotaenius was recently found on the banks of the Elila River in southeastern DRC. The status of the five species, first described between 1950 and 1952, was a mystery until they were rediscovered during the recent field expeditions, which took place between 2009 to 2011.
"Like most of the 'lost' amphibian species, they simply hadn't been seen for many decades, and their status was completely unknown," expedition leader Eli Greenbaum, a biologist at the University of Texas at El Paso, said by email.
The DRC expeditions were inspired by Conservation International and the International Union for Conservation of Nature's 2010 effort to rediscover a hundred "lost" amphibian species around the world (see pictures).
That unprecedented effort focused primarily on finding ten species of high scientific and aesthetic value. Ultimately, scientists on that project spotted only 15 "lost" species, and just one from their most wanted list.
The newly announced discovery of the DRC frogs "is good news," according to Greenbaum, whose work was partially funded by the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration. (The Society owns National Geographic News.)
"My team's discoveries confirm that those jungles have been poorly explored," he said in a statement. "There is a lot of biodiversity there, and it's not too late to redouble our efforts at conservation."

High-Altitude Amphibian
The Chrysobatrachus cupreonitens frog species was found in high-altitude, flooded grasslands of the Itombwe Plateau in southeastern DRC.
About a third of the world's amphibian species are either extinct or close to dying out, according to expedition leader Greenbaum. That's why his team's efforts offer a "glimmer of hope."
"This is important for the sake of conservation on a global scale," he said in a statement.
"Amphibians are like the canaries in the coal mine. If they go, we're next—and they're not doing too good."

Fingernail-Size Frog
Scientists discovered the fingernail-size Arthroleptis pyrrhoscelis frog at about 6,600 feet (2,000 meters) high on the Itombwe Plateau.
Eggs of frogs of the Arthroleptis genus hatch directly into froglets, bypassing the tadpole stage, according to Greenbaum's website.
It's not for nothing that DRC forests were little explored for so long. Since about 1960 frequent warfare has kept many scientists out of the country. Likewise, dangerously poor roads, rudimentary health facilities, and land mines make research difficult, Greenbaum said by email.
During Greenbaum's last expedition, he walked 100 miles (160 kilometers) through the mountains and contracted dengue fever.

Forest Survivor
The team discovered the frog species Hyperolius chrysogaster (pictured) in its only known habitat—the relatively healthy forests of Kahuzi-Biega National Park, in eastern DRC.
Other eastern forests in the country are being destroyed to make way for agricultural use, endangering frogs, mountain gorillas, and other animals, according to Greenbaum's website.

Puddle Frog Makes a Splash
As far as African puddle frogs go, the rediscovered species Phrynobatrachus asper is relatively hefty. "The legs have so much meat on them that this species was rediscovered in 2009 when villagers on the Itombwe Plateau offered to sell their frog dinner to the scientists!" Greenbaum said on his website.
This led the search team to a living Phrynobatrachus asper, found in one of the plateau's forest streams—the species' preferred habitat.

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