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Lost and Found

July 15, 2011

Rheanna Sand

 

Wow, 2011 is shaping up to be quite the year for fugitive hunters. First Bin Laden. Then Whitey Bulger. And now, researchers working in the remote mountains straddling the Indonesia-Malaysia border have rediscovered an amphibian species thought lost for almost 90 years! The Borneo rainbow toad was last spotted in 1924 - that's before my Grandmother was born - and documented only by one rare sketch, but is now known to be alive and well perched in the high treetops of its forest habitat.

 


 

A team of students led by Dr. Indraneil Das were the ones to finally snap a photo of this beautiful amphibian. Ironically, what allowed them to get to the remote habitat after 87 years was the development of a resort featuring an 18-hole golf course. And while this made the expedition possible, it also made it very expensive, as the entire team had to stay at the resort in between treks. Sounds like it could have been a welcome respite from the pleasantries of the mountain paths - which presented "leeches, encounters with gun-wielding poachers, getting drenched in the rain at over 1,000 meters elevation at night" and other fun, according to a NY Times blog interview.

It's all worth it in the end, though - discoveries like these give the scientific community hope that tiny, pretty toads can persist in this human-riddled world, even if we don't see them for 90 years. Not to mention the timing - a rainbow toad during Pride season? Priceless.

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