A new species of beaked toad, discovered in Colombia. Photo credit: Robin Moore/iLCP
For over a week, a team of researchers scoured the cloudforests of Chocó, Colombia, looking for amphibian species "lost" to science. Working through damp, cold, conditions, the team's spirits waned as each day passed without any results. Then, an entirely unexpected discovery proved all the hard work was worthwhile.
In a very short period of time, the team uncovered three amphibian species thought to be entirely new.
A search for "lost" species turned up some new ones, like this beaked toad, genus Rhinella. Photo credit: Robin Moore/iLCP
"After spending several days searching for the Mesopotamia beaked toad with no success, the team's spirits were pretty low," said Robin Moore, an amphibian conservation specialist for Conservation International. "Finding these new species," she added, "including a new beaked toad, was like a shot of adrenaline. We definitely left on a high."
Besides its strange appearance, the team's report explains, "the beaked toad is rather unusual in that it probably skips the tadpole stage, laying eggs on the forest floor that hatch directly into toadlets."
A new toad species with striking red eyes, discovered in the cloudforests of Chocó, Colombia. Photo credit: Robin Moore/iLCP
The second species the team discovered is the most baffling. Endemic to high-elevation cloud forests, the toad is unlike any researchers had seen before and, as of yet, its genus remains unknown.
"I have never seen a toad with such vibrant red eyes," Moore commented then explained that "this trait is highly unusual for amphibians, and its discovery offers us a terrific opportunity to learn more about how and why it adapted this way."
A new species of rocket frog. Photo credit: Robin Moore/iLCP
The third species, a poison dart frog is thought to be from a member of the Silverstoneia genus. Similar rocket frogs are known for carrying newly hatched tadpoles on their backs to deposit them in water.
Photo credit: Robin Moore/iLCP
"Finding three new species in such a short space of time," Moore said, "speaks to the incredibly rich biodiversity of these relatively unexplored forests and highlights their importance for conservation."
"Protecting these habitats into the future," he added, "will be essential to ensure the survival of both the amphibians and the benefits that they bring to ecosystems and people."