Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Frog Long Thought Extinct Is Rediscovered in Israel

First amphibian to officially be declared extinct has been rediscovered in Israel.

A reddish frog perches atop a rock.  

Israeli park ranger Yoram Malka caught only a fleeting glimpse of the frog as it leapt across the road, but he knew it was something special.
When he first saw the frog in northern Israel's Hula Valley, Malka jerked his utility vehicle to a stop, bounded out of his seat, and jumped atop it, catching the creature in his hands.

The animal had a mottled backside and a black belly with white dots. It belonged to a species that most scientists thought had disappeared from the Earth more than half a century ago.

In fact, the Hula painted frog was the first amphibian to officially be declared extinct, in 1996. Prior to Malka's 2011 encounter, the animal had not been spotted alive in nearly 60 years.

When Sarig Gafny, a river ecologist at Israel's Ruppin Academic Center, received Malka's cell phone picture of the frog, he recalled that "everything fell out of my hands."

"I forgot about my fever, jumped into my car, and drove two hours north to see it," said Gafny, the coauthor of a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications detailing the frog's rediscovery.

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