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Three Australian Frog Species Officially Extinct

September 22, 2015



The Australian government has officially declared three frog species extinct in the wild after extensive herping expeditions failed to find any sign of them over the last 25 years. The government declared the  southern gastric brooding frog (Rheobatrachus silus), sharp-snouted torrent frog (Taudactylus acutirostris), and Mt Glorious torrent frog (Taudactylus diurnus) extinct in the wild. A fourth frog, the Kuranda treefrog (Litoria myola) has been moved from near-threatened to endangered, with an estimate of just 1,000 of the frogs left in the wild. The Kuranda treefrog is a rainforest frog that inhabits slow moving and permanent streams near the Barron River in Queensland. 

The southern gastric brooding frog was unique in that its eggs were incubated in its stomach and the tiny froglets were then released into the world via the frog's mouth.  Also known as the platypus frog, there were two species in the genus Rheobatrachus and were native to Queensland in Australia, the southern gastric brooding frog ((Rheobatrachus silus) and the northern gastric brooding frog (R. vitellinus). They were previously found in creek systems as well as in rainforests. The reason for their extinction is not clear but is blamed on habitat loss and degradation as well as disease.

gastric brooding frog

MIKE TYLER, (UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE)

Southern gastric-brooding frog giving birth in the lab of Mike Tyler of the University of Adelaide.

Officials tried to breed the sharp-snouted day frog (Taudactylus acutirostris) and prevent its extinction by securing the last remaining wild tadpoles for captivity. A number of tadpoles were gathered and sent to two zoos and two universities. Unfortunately, this proved to be too little too late. The last of this frog species died in captivity in 1995 from the same disease that undoubtedly helped to cause their extinction in the wild: chytridiomycosis, caused by the deadly chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis).

The Mount Glorious torrent frog (Taudactylus Diurnus) has not been seen in the wild since 1979. The frog was easily found in south eastern Queensland during the 1970s but began to decline and hasn’t been seen in the wild since 1979. It was listed as critically endangered in 1996 by the IUCN and was determined to be extinct in 2004. 


John Virata keeps a western hognose snake, a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata 

 

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