Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bizarre beaked toad one of three new species discovered deep in the Colombian jungle


Discovery: The new beaked toad species found in Choco, Columbia

Discovered deep in the heart of the Colombian jungle, this bizarre-looking beaked toad had never been seen before.

Smaller than a human thumbnail, the tiny beaked toad, with deep purple skin and small blue blotches, was among three new species of amphibian discovered by a British-led scientific team.

The environmental research team responsible for the discovery were hunting for a 'lost' species of toad not seen since World War One.

Tiny: The new beaked toad is no bigger than a human fingernail

Instead the researchers unearthed these three creatures - caught on camera by a British researcher.

The next newly found treasure is a red-legged tree frog with distinctive black streaks from nose to body. A brown toad with red eyes completes the new additions for the zoological record.

The pictures show the creatures in their native environment where they seem to scramble without fear of their human visitors.

As expedition leader, Scottish amphibian conservation officer and photographer, Robin Moore, 35, from Edinburgh, played a key role in the discovery.

'The amazing part is that nobody, in the history of its existence, has ever recorded its presence,' he said.

'It is tantalising to be reminded that there are still pockets of the unknown that provide us with a chance at discovery.

The organisation Robin works for, Conservation International, was founded in 1987 to use scientific studies to help protect delicate ecosystems and empower local communities.

Describing the moment they came upon their first new species, he said: 'We woke at 4.30 am and bundled into two vehicles to make the 10-hour drive.

'Clouds hung low with a promise of rain: perfect weather for frogs.

'We found some promising forest, left the car at the side of the road and scrambled up a steep, muddy slope in the rain. We had been walking for about an hour when a voice behind us alerted us to something unusual.

'Alonso, our Colombian partner, ran to meet us, holding a small, brown toad with bright red eyes. 'He knew instantly that what he was holding was a new species. The air buzzed with excitement as we clambered to take a look.

'It was a true honour to be looking at a species new to science, a species yet to even be named.'

Colourful: The new species of rocket frog (genus Colostethus) was also found

The new species of amphibians were discovered by the scientists as they hunted for a totally different frog species lost in the deep Colombian jungle for nearly 100 years.

The science team were attempting to rediscover the Mesopotamian beaked toad, which was only ever recorded once, in 1914.

Since American biologist Gladwin Noble made his discovery has disappeared from scientific records and no photographs are known to exist of the elusive toad.

The search for the Mesopotamian beaked toad continues. The scientists involved can only guess at what natural wonders they will find.

There are over 4000 species of frogs and toads known to exist, making them the most diverse group of amphibians.

They are cold blooded and usually lay eggs from which their offspring hatch.
Once born they go through a juvenile water-breathing tadpole stage before becoming mature air-breathers.

Amphibians evolved during the Devonian Period, approximately 250 million years ago.

Strange: The new harlequin toad species (genus Atelopus) was among the three new species found in the jungle

source: dailymail

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