Frog Hops Back into Existence
The painted frog (Atelopus ebenoides marinkellei), from Colombia. The survival of the harlequin frog provides hope that other species might survive the killer fungus.
Credit: Carlos A. Rocha via Conservation International

Survivors of a frog species that was thought to be extinct have been found.

The survivors, discovered in the mountains of Columbia, might be the last holdouts of the painted frog (Atelopus ebenoides marinkellei). Scientists are now racing to protect them.

Other clutches of the frogs have suffered a lethal skin fungus, known as chytridiomycosis, that has wiped out other amphibian populations in Central and South America, researchers said. Scientists hope the fact that these have not succumbed is a sign that other species might avoid elimination by the mysterious fungus.

The painted frog was last seen in 1995.

"The scientific importance of the finding must motivate us to adopt urgent measures toward saving the last of these amphibians, both in the wild and through captive breeding programs," said Fabio Arjona, executive director of Conservation International in Colombia. "That will require a lot of support from the local and international communities."

The discovery was led by Professor Carlos Rocha at the Pedagogical and Technological University of Boyaca.