Lungless caecilian

Photographs courtesy Marvalee Wake, University of California, Berkeley, via Proceedings of the Royal Society B

A second, lungless caecilian species has recently been discovered in Guyana. This new species, Caecilita iwokramae, is very different to the other known lungless caecilian species, Typhlonectes eiselti, since it is only 11 cm long and it lives on land. T. eiselti was 72 cm in length and is completely aquatic. It is known only from a single holotype specimen.

Click here for the full report on this new species, on the National Geographic News web site. More information about T. eiselti can be found in the Proceedings of The Royal Society B.

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The connection between frog deformities and pesticides and herbicides has been reported a lot. But here is a new study by Southern Illinois University in Carbondale that shows how little it really takes to harm amphibians. Imagine there was a pool of water in a farm pond that had the presence of only a trace (0.0000000003*) of pesticide ingredient edosulfan. That would be enough to kill half of the pond’s frog population. Take the 3 and make it 8, and every frog dies. Here’s the news release explaining the study:http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/555153/?sc=rssn (*Double check my decimal conversion. What I’m attempting to show is 0.3 parts per billion.)

An excerpt from the release:

The foothill yellow-legged frog is especially susceptible to the chemicals such as endosulfans, which kill by essentially overloading the nervous system and rendering breathing muscles useless. Europe and Australia each have banned the use of the chemical as a pesticide, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also is studying the issue, Sparling said.

Sparling is optimistic humans can find ways to both farm on a large enough scale to feed the population and protect non-pest animals.

“To produce crops to provide for the world we have to use pesticides, and I’m not anti-pesticide,” he said. “But it’s important for us as scientists, agriculturalists and environmental protectors to make sure we continue developing pesticides that are as protective as possible of non-target animals as can be, both in the chemicals we use and application methods.”


Frogs are disappearing at an alarming rate in Europe: “Fifty-nine percent of all European amphibians and 42 percent of reptiles are declining and face even greater risk than European mammals and birds, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature said.” CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY.

Kevin Zippel from Amphibian Ark just emailed that the chytrid (Bd) fungus that chokes the breath from 80% of the world’s amphibian species it touches has landed in the Philippines. As you will read in THIS STORY, it’s been present for a least two years there. Five indigenous species are affected so far: the Luzon striped frog (Rana similis) has “practically disappeared from the lowland forests of Mount Labo on the southeast tip of the main Philippine island of Luzon”; the Luzon stream frog (Rana luzonensis); two species of the Luzon fanged frog (Limnonectes woodworth and Limnonectes macrocephalus); and the Puddle frog (Occidozyga laevis).

Daniel Craig, Prince Charles, Pele, Prince William, Prince Harry, Robin Williams, Joss Stone, Harrison Ford, and Kermit the Frog costar with a bright, green frog for a video PSA supporting the Prince’s Rainforest Project. There is a frog in every scene, and no other animal, which underscores that people are starting to get it: amphibians are the canaries in the coal mine for our planet’s health — and our personal health, too. As you check out the Prince’s Rainforest Project, keep Amphibian Ark in mind, as well.

Wish we had been able to pull off something this magnificent during 2008 the year of the frog. But what a great boost to 2009.

In Madagascar, scientists have discovered up to 221 new species of frogs. Here’s the CNN report. This has led the research team to wonder if the count of 6,000 amphibian species we have assumed are on the planet are, in truth, 12,000. Excerpt:

“The diversity of species in Madagascar is far from being known and there is still a lot of scientific research to be done. Our data suggest that the number of new species of amphibians not only has been underestimated but it is spatially widespread, even in well studied areas,” said Professor David R. Vieites, CSIC researcher to the press at the Spanish National Natural Sciences Museum in Madrid.\

That should not create any false sense of security, or relief, about the plight of amphibians. Applying the new, suggested number of 12,000 species, that just means 4,000-6,000 of them could disappear in our lifetime, instead of 2,000-3,000.

With hours to go before the close of April 30, I proudly report that Frogmatters has had a record month for visits. I know it’s not up there with Treehugger.com or Mongabay.com, but it’s great to see continued and growing interest in the amphibian crisis — even after 2008 which was declared the Year of the Frog. Continued thanks to Amphibian Ark for all they are doing.

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