‘Extinct’ frog is last survivor of its lineage

In 1996, after four decades of failed searches, the Hula painted frog became the first amphibian to be declared extinct by an international body — a portent of the crisis that now threatens the entire class. But it seems that reports of the creature’s death had been greatly exaggerated.

In October 2011, a living individual was found in Israel’s Hula Nature Reserve, and a number of others have since been spotted. “I hope it will be a conservation success story,” says Sarig Gafny at the Ruppin Academic Center in Michmoret, Israel, who led a study of the rediscovered animal. “We don’t know anything about their natural history and we have to study them. The more we know, the more we can protect them.”

Gafny’s team has not only rediscovered the frog, but also reclassified it. It turns out that the Hula painted frog is the last survivor of an otherwise extinct genus, whose other members are known only through fossils. The work appears today in Nature Communications

(read more at Nature News & Comment)