for National Geographic News
A rough-skinned frog species thought to have gone extinct more than 20 years ago has been found alive in a Honduran rain forest, experts said.
Craugastor milesi—also called the miles' robber frog—was considered "locally abundant" in Honduras until the 1980s, when attempts to find the frog proved unsuccessful.
The culprit was thought to be a chytrid fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which now threatens to wipe out numerous frog species worldwide.
(See related: "Deadly Frog Fungus Spreads in Virus-Like Waves" [April 1, 2008].)
While trekking last year through Cusuco National Park in Honduras, Jonathan Kolby, a senior herpetologist with the conservation group Operation Wallacea, stumbled across a frog that he had never seen before.
"I knew it was different," Kolby said. "By then I was pretty familiar with what should and shouldn't be there."
Kolby failed to nab the frog that first time, but after returning to the same spot this past June—with funding from National Geographic's Conservation Trust—he spotted and collected a very similar looking species.
"It was uncanny. It was basically one foot (30 centimeters) away from exactly where it was sitting last year," Kolby said.
"It's easy to say that it may have been the same frog, but I'm hopeful that it's not."
Kolby sent the specimen to Florida-based James McCranie, an independent expert on Honduran frogs, who identified it as the miles' robber frog.
The adult male specimen Kolby had captured showed no signs of Bd infection. This was surprising, because Kolby's previous research had shown that the stream where the frog had been found was rife with Bd-infected amphibians.
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