When a species of animal thought to be extinct suddenly reappears in nature, it can be quite an interesting and exciting discovery.
For a biologist by the name of Sathyabhama Das Biju, making a trek through an Indian forest in 2007 meant rediscovering a species of tree frog thought to have gone extinct more than a century ago.
These tree frogs feast on vegetation, which in itself is quite unusual. Most frogs like to dine on insects and larvae.
The reason why these particular tree frogs may have been thought to be extinct? – They’ve avoided people by dwelling in holes found almost 20 feet in the air on trees and live in a mostly unoccupied territory where very few scientists actually keep track of the animals.
With the rediscovery of the new frog, scientists are now creating a new genus because of just how different it is genetically from other types of tree frogs.
The study has been published in the journal PLOS ONE by Biju and his colleagues from the University of Delhi, and details tree frogs whose tadpoles actually feast on the eggs of the mother. The genus is being called Frankixalus after the lead researcher's adviser, Franky Bossyut.
Since the discovery, much of the forestation where the frog could have been found has been cut down or destroyed for development. Unfortunately, this means that the once-thought-to-be-extinct tree frog may actually some day face extinction due to habitat loss.
“This frog is facing extreme stress in these areas, and could be pushed to extinction simply from habitat loss,” Biju said. “We’re lucky in a way to have found it before that happens, but we’re all worried.”
Scientists are now hopeful that there may be more of these species of tree frogs throughout the forested areas of China and even Thailand.
Source: PLOS ONE