This small insectivorous nocturnal frog, reaching a length of up to 7.5 cm (SVL), is found in a variety of habitats, with permanent fresh water and general wet - moist surroundings, in tropical and subtropical areas along the East Coast of Africa. They belong to the family
Hyperoliidae, the Sedge, Reed, and Bush frogs. The name of the “Walking or Running frogs,” in the genus Kassina, comes from their habit walking, in lieu of hopping as many frogs do, characterized by a deliberate stride.
Green Salamanders (Aneides aeneus), found in the Southern Appalachians of the SE United States
This species of lungless salamander (family Plethodontidae) is found in and near moist rock crevices in mountainous areas. They are excellent climbers, sometimes even found in nearby shrubs and trees. The males of this species is known for being aggressive towards potential predators, other salamanders, and each other.
On 26 September, staff with the Atlanta Botanical Garden found a frog dead in his enclosure. The frog had big brown eyes, massive feet with thick webs between the toes, and brownish skin speckled with little yellow dots. His name was Toughie. He was big for a frog and he didn’t like it when humans handled him. He’d lived a long time: 12 years.
And he was the last of his kind.
On 26 September 2016, the world very likely lost Rabbs’ fringe-limbed treefrog (Ecnomiohyla rabborum) to extinction. The species, only discovered by scientists in 2005, lived in Panama before it was wiped out in the wild by habitat destruction and the amphibian disease, chytridiomycosis. The last one was heard calling in the wild in 2007. But before this, a small number of Rabbs’ fringe-limbed treefrog had been taken into zoological facilities for captive breeding. Unfortunately, the attempt failed. Toughie was the last to die.
Despite the fact that we can actually trace the extinction of Rabbs’ fringe-limbed treefrog to an exact date, it occurred with very little media interest. Sure, the species’ demise was covered by many standard science media sites, such as Scientific American, National Geographic, and Mongabay.
But the list of what media outlets thought the story not interesting enough is perhaps more notable, including the BBC, the Sun, and CNN. Even this outlet, the Guardian, did not devote a full article to the extinction.
Many news sites simply reprinted the Associated Press’s story, which spilled 264 words on the extinction of Rabbs’ fringe-limbed treefrog (in contrast, the AP wrote three times as many words, 798, on Taylor Swift’s concert at Formula One). The New York Times at first only carried the AP article, though it later published a beautiful op-ed by one of the researchers.
Still, I waited a little while to see if news coverage would pick up as the story trickled out – it didn’t.
A week after the extinction, I gave a presentation to a local herpetological society, ie devoted to amphibians and reptiles. When I brought up the recent demise of Rabbs’ fringe-limbed treefrog, there were audible gasps in the room. Even herp lovers hadn’t heard of it.