Nearly extinct frog species found thriving in Israel
Scientists discovered it in an unexpected place ... and time.
The Hula painted frog, which is native to Israel, has white spots on its belly and an odd-shaped head. Scientists thought this amphibian was extinct, or at least very, very rare ... until now. To their surprise, Israeli researchers discovered hundreds of the animals. The Hula painted frog has made a serious comeback.
Scientists first discovered the frog in the 1940s, though they only managed to capture five specimens. The frogs disappeared after the Hula Valley's Lake Hula was drained in the 1950s. Researchers assumed the frog was extinct in the wild but kept it on the endangered list out of sheer hope.
Scientists have found the Hula painted frog's DNA in 17 of 52 watering holes they studied. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Then, in 2011, a ranger and hiker happened to find a few. This reinvigorated scientists to start searching, but the frog proved elusive. They assumed it spent a good deal of time on the land and in the water, so they searched in both places. But they only managed to spot about 20.
But all that changed recently, when research teams discovered more than 150 of these frogs, which are apparently still thriving in the country. The researchers had been looking in the wrong places. As it turns out, the frogs mainly hang out in the water, not the land, and they especially like to come out at night.
“Out of every 100 ordinary frogs, there’s one Hula painted frog,” said Professor Sarig Gafni of the Ruppin Academic Center’s School of Marine Sciences, who led search teams for the frog.
Scientists originally thought the frog species was 20 million years old and came from ancestors in Western Europe. But Hebrew University's paleontologist Rivka Biton scanned the frog's bones and discovered that the species was actually 50 million years old. It came from prehistoric 8-inch-long giant frogs that went extinct in Europe 1.5 million years ago ... unless, of course, we happen to find a few.
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Related Topics: Animals