Lost into oblivion, but not lost forever: rediscovery of the webless shrub frog

The same scientists that rediscovered the Kandyan dwarf toad (Adenomus kandianus), confirmed the find of a species, the webless shrub frog (Pseudophilautus hypomelas), that vanished from the earth in the same year as the Kandyan dwarf toad, 1876. In that year Sri Lanka, where the frog has its home, was still firmly in the hands of the British and would not gain independence  for another 70 plus years. No wonder the scientists had a hard time recognizing the animal when they stumbled upon 40 individuals of this species.

The rediscovered webless shrub frog. Credit:: L.J. Mendis Wickramasinghe

The rediscovered webless shrub frog. Credit: L.J. Mendis Wickramasinghe

A team led by scientist Dr. Wickramasinghe explored the Peak Sanctuary Wilderness  in Sri Lanka in 2010 when they made their exciting find. This is a poorly explored area and this team has achieved a lot of success with their expeditions there, confirmed by the rediscovery of the webless shrub frog and the Kandyan dwarf toad, but as well by the discovery of 8 new species in 2012 and even more intriguing the rediscovery of the starry shrub frog (Pseudophilautus stellatus) 160 years after it had been only spotted once. The Peak Sanctuary Wilderness is characterized by a very high biodiversity, explained by the different forest types with a varying altitude gradient, creating many different habitats.

The starry shrub frog. Credit: L.J. Mendis Wickramasinghe

The starry shrub frog. Credit: L.J. Mendis Wickramasinghe

Because this species was sighted so long ago for the last time and not much is known about it, the scientists first assumed they were dealing with a species new to science. With no living memories of the species, only specimens from the museum could confirm the rediscovery of the species, that is identified by distinct markings on its back. Even though it is very good news that the web shrubbed frog is back among the living and is living in a protected area, the scientists warn in their article that it is hugely imperiled and given its small range should be listed as Critically Endangered. Furthermore, the Peak Sanctuary Wilderness suffers from anthropogenic pressures like over exploitation of natural resources for tea cultivation, forest fragmentation, illegal constructions and discharge of pollutants to the environment. I hope sincerely that the webless shrub frog will stay among us and will not slip into oblivion again.

Here you can read the original article from Mongabay

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