Happy Leap Day! As we launch into this new phase of the Search for Lost Frogs we thought it made sense to replace the three “found” species from the top ten with new ones. Thanks to some very strong nominations from the ASG community, picking just three to feature was a very hard task.

We settled on those species that are iconic, unusual or striking in some way, whilst maintaining a broad geographic scope. None of the three new species have been seen within the past three decades. The three selected species are:

© Claudio Soto-Azat

Chile Darwin’s frog, Rhinoderma rufum, Chile. Last seen 1980. Chile Darwin’s Frog is a truly iconic lost species, and one of only two species in the world in which the young undergo part of their development in their parent’s mouth. Eggs are laid on the ground and when the tadpoles start to wriggle, the guarding male swallows them into his vocal sack. The male then transports tadpoles to water where he releases them to complete their development. Another unusual feature of this species is its long, pointed nose. The species lived by slow running streams in wet temperate forests but there have been no recorded sightings since 1980 despite repeated searches.

Dutoit’s torrent frog, Petropedetes dutoiti, Kenya. Last seen 1962. Dutoit’s torrent frog is found in and around fast flowing streams and waterfalls of Mount Elgon in Kenya. The frogs lay their eggs on wet rocks close to torrential streams; upon hatching the tadpoles cling to vertical rock surfaces grazing algae, and here they remain until they develop into froglets. The family to which this frog belongs started to evolve separately from the rest of the amphibians 5 million years before the extinction of the dinosaurs, which according to the EDGE website, “makes them as different from their closest relatives as pigs are to whales!”. The species has not been reported since 1962 despite numerous searches and the habitat being in good shape.

© Arie van der Meijden

Yunnan lake newt, Cynops wolterstorffi, China. Last seen 1979. This is really a striking looking amphibian; a black background is decorated with orange stripes and blotches. These newts are adapted to an entirely aquatic life and some adults have been observed with the remnants of gills. The male has a deep blue tail in breeding season, and they are the Peter Pans of the animal world, demonstrating what is known as “neoteny” and retaining juvenile characteristics into adulthood. The newts would be observed by their thousands swimming among aquatic plants on the shores of the lake during breeding season, but none have been seen since 1979. Local knowledge of the newt is limited to reports by a few older fishermen in the area.

We hope to be able to support more expeditions to find these, and other lost species in the future, not to mention supporting conservation actions for species that we do know exist. Thanks again for being a part of the Search for Lost Frogs.