libutron
libutron:

The Onore’s Harlequin Frog - A toad that jumped from its description to its extinction
Although it is commonly known as Onore’s Harlequin Frog, Atelopus onorei is actually a toad in the Bufonidae family, which is distinguished from other Atelopus species by its color patterns in yellow-orange and green, and by its aqua-blue iris.
This beautiful species was described just in 2007 from specimens formerly allocated to Atelopus bomolochos, and is only known from its type locality (near Río Chipla and a nearby creek, in the Azuay Basin of the Cordillera Occidental of Ecuador, Azuay Province, Ecuador). 
As many species of harlequin frogs (the genus Atelopus) across Central and South America, the Onore’s harlequin frogs are vanishing, even from seemingly pristine areas. So, just a year after its description, Atelopus onorei was classified in 2008 on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered and Possibly Extinct.
According to Coloma et al. (2014), from the Jambatu Center for Research and Conservation of Amphibians, AnfibiosWebEcuador, Atelopus onorei was abundant at the type locality until 1990, when it was seen last. Occasional search efforts in subsequent years (1992-1993 and 2010) were unsuccessful. 
Although some authors believe that the decline of populations of this species and others may have been caused by pathogens such as chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), it is considered that this is also a consequence of climate change.
Photo credit: (via ©Luis A. Coloma/AmphibiaWebEcuador | Locality: Ecuador
References: [1] - [2] - [3] - [4] - [5]

libutron:

The Onore’s Harlequin Frog - A toad that jumped from its description to its extinction

Although it is commonly known as Onore’s Harlequin Frog, Atelopus onorei is actually a toad in the Bufonidae family, which is distinguished from other Atelopus species by its color patterns in yellow-orange and green, and by its aqua-blue iris.

This beautiful species was described just in 2007 from specimens formerly allocated to Atelopus bomolochos, and is only known from its type locality (near Río Chipla and a nearby creek, in the Azuay Basin of the Cordillera Occidental of Ecuador, Azuay Province, Ecuador). 

As many species of harlequin frogs (the genus Atelopus) across Central and South America, the Onore’s harlequin frogs are vanishing, even from seemingly pristine areas. So, just a year after its description, Atelopus onorei was classified in 2008 on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered and Possibly Extinct.

According to Coloma et al. (2014), from the Jambatu Center for Research and Conservation of Amphibians, AnfibiosWebEcuador, Atelopus onorei was abundant at the type locality until 1990, when it was seen last. Occasional search efforts in subsequent years (1992-1993 and 2010) were unsuccessful. 

Although some authors believe that the decline of populations of this species and others may have been caused by pathogens such as chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), it is considered that this is also a consequence of climate change.

Photo credit: (via ©Luis A. Coloma/AmphibiaWebEcuador | Locality: Ecuador

References: [1] - [2] - [3] - [4] - [5]

Building an Ark for the Anthropocene
by Jim Robbins
We are barreling into the Anthropocene, the sixth mass extinction in the history of the planet. A recent study published in the journal Science concluded that the world’s species are disappearing as much as 1,000 times faster than the rate at which species naturally go extinct. It’s a one-two punch — on top of the ecosystems we’ve broken, extreme weather from a changing climate causes even more damage. By 2100, researchers say, one-third to one-half of all Earth’s species could be wiped out.
As a result, efforts to protect species are ramping up as governments, scientists and nonprofit organizations try to build a modern version of Noah’s Ark. The new ark certainly won’t come in the form of a large boat, or even always a place set aside. Instead it is a patchwork quilt of approaches, including assisted migration, seed banks and new preserves and travel corridors based on where species are likely to migrate as seas rise or food sources die out…
(read more: NY Times)
illustration by Jason Holley

Building an Ark for the Anthropocene

by Jim Robbins

We are barreling into the Anthropocene, the sixth mass extinction in the history of the planet. A recent study published in the journal Science concluded that the world’s species are disappearing as much as 1,000 times faster than the rate at which species naturally go extinct. It’s a one-two punch — on top of the ecosystems we’ve broken, extreme weather from a changing climate causes even more damage. By 2100, researchers say, one-third to one-half of all Earth’s species could be wiped out.

As a result, efforts to protect species are ramping up as governments, scientists and nonprofit organizations try to build a modern version of Noah’s Ark. The new ark certainly won’t come in the form of a large boat, or even always a place set aside. Instead it is a patchwork quilt of approaches, including assisted migration, seed banks and new preserves and travel corridors based on where species are likely to migrate as seas rise or food sources die out…

(read more: NY Times)

illustration by Jason Holley

In the Shadows of Machu Picchu, Scientists Find ‘Extinct’ Cat-Sized Rodent
by Jeremy Hance
Below one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, scientists have made a remarkable discovery: a living cat-sized mammal that, until now, was only known from fossils.
The Machu Picchu arboreal chinchilla rat (Cuscomys oblativa) was first described from two enigmatic skulls discovered in Incan pottery sculpted 400 years ago. Dug up by Hiram Bignham in 1912, the skulls were believed to belong to a species that went extinct even before Francisco Pizarro showed up in Peru with his motley army.
Yet, all that changed in 2009 when a park ranger, Roberto Quispe, found what was believed to be a living Machu Picchu arboreal chinchilla rat near the original archaeological site.”In Conservation Biology this type of rediscoveries is called the Lazarus effect,” writes a team of Mexican and Peruvian scientists in a press release, who years later sought to confirm Quispe’s discovery…
(read more: MongaBay)
photograph by Roberto Quispe

In the Shadows of Machu Picchu, Scientists Find ‘Extinct’ Cat-Sized Rodent

by Jeremy Hance

Below one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, scientists have made a remarkable discovery: a living cat-sized mammal that, until now, was only known from fossils.

The Machu Picchu arboreal chinchilla rat (Cuscomys oblativa) was first described from two enigmatic skulls discovered in Incan pottery sculpted 400 years ago. Dug up by Hiram Bignham in 1912, the skulls were believed to belong to a species that went extinct even before Francisco Pizarro showed up in Peru with his motley army.

Yet, all that changed in 2009 when a park ranger, Roberto Quispe, found what was believed to be a living Machu Picchu arboreal chinchilla rat near the original archaeological site.”In Conservation Biology this type of rediscoveries is called the Lazarus effect,” writes a team of Mexican and Peruvian scientists in a press release, who years later sought to confirm Quispe’s discovery…

(read more: MongaBay)

photograph by Roberto Quispe

annmarcaida

annmarcaida:

image

The last lonely passenger pigeon died in 1914. Her stuffed body is on display at the Smithsonian Institution. I’ve seen her. It’s a sad exhibit.

But what if passenger pigeons could be reincarnated?

That’s the idea behind de-extinction. Take DNA harvested from museum specimens and…

libutron
jadafitch:

Passenger Pigeons (Ectopistes migratorius)
This September is the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon.In the nineteenth century, the Passenger Pigeon was one of the most common birds in the world.  There are records of flocks that stretched a mile long and contained billions of birds.  By the early twentieth century though, they were nearly extinct.  After European settlers arrived, much of their habitat was destroyed, and they were exploited as an inexpensive food source.  By the time it was understood that the Passenger Pigeon needed protection, it was too late.  Martha, the very last one died one hundred years ago, on September 1st 1914.  The loss of this beautiful bird gained public’s attention, which resulted in many new conservation and protection law and practices. 

jadafitch:

Passenger Pigeons (Ectopistes migratorius)

This September is the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon.

In the nineteenth century, the Passenger Pigeon was one of the most common birds in the world.  There are records of flocks that stretched a mile long and contained billions of birds.  By the early twentieth century though, they were nearly extinct.  After European settlers arrived, much of their habitat was destroyed, and they were exploited as an inexpensive food source.  By the time it was understood that the Passenger Pigeon needed protection, it was too late.  Martha, the very last one died one hundred years ago, on September 1st 1914.  The loss of this beautiful bird gained public’s attention, which resulted in many new conservation and protection law and practices. 

From Billions to None: The Story of the Passenger Pigeon
October 1814. Population: 3-5 billion. October 1914. Population: 0. From Billions to None in a mere century. Ohio, 1854. A dense, black shadow begins to creep across the northern edges of the horizon, slowly but incessantly blotting out a bright cerulean sky. Residents take notice, and pour out of their homes and businesses to stare in wide-eyed awe and trepidation at the phenomena edging towards them. Hours pass, and the sky is hurled into unwavering darkness. Finally, as the day fades, the sun itself succumbs to this nameless power. Men and women fall to their knees in prayer, begging for deliverance from the Revelational apocalypse. A thundering roar, like the beating of a million drums, assaults the kneeling petitioners, and their fingers turn icy as an arctic gale whips around their bodies. A lone figure, hunting rifle in hand, stands atop a hill and stares at the pitiful scene before him. Shaking his head, he lifts his muzzle, peers straight and true through his sights, and pulls the trigger. Dozens of shapes, like tiny meteors, break away from the mass overhead and plummet towards the earth. Swinging his weapon over his shoulder in satisfaction, he picks up a burlap sack and swaggers towards the fallen celestial bodies. As he stoops and retrieves one of the mysterious figures, a pair of slate wings unfurls. He stuffs the Passenger Pigeon unceremoniously into his bag and moves on to the next bird…
(read more: Biodiversity Heritage Library)

From Billions to None: The Story of the Passenger Pigeon

October 1814. Population: 3-5 billion. October 1914. Population: 0. From Billions to None in a mere century.

Ohio, 1854. A dense, black shadow begins to creep across the northern edges of the horizon, slowly but incessantly blotting out a bright cerulean sky. Residents take notice, and pour out of their homes and businesses to stare in wide-eyed awe and trepidation at the phenomena edging towards them.

Hours pass, and the sky is hurled into unwavering darkness. Finally, as the day fades, the sun itself succumbs to this nameless power.

Men and women fall to their knees in prayer, begging for deliverance from the Revelational apocalypse. A thundering roar, like the beating of a million drums, assaults the kneeling petitioners, and their fingers turn icy as an arctic gale whips around their bodies.

A lone figure, hunting rifle in hand, stands atop a hill and stares at the pitiful scene before him. Shaking his head, he lifts his muzzle, peers straight and true through his sights, and pulls the trigger. Dozens of shapes, like tiny meteors, break away from the mass overhead and plummet towards the earth. Swinging his weapon over his shoulder in satisfaction, he picks up a burlap sack and swaggers towards the fallen celestial bodies. As he stoops and retrieves one of the mysterious figures, a pair of slate wings unfurls. He stuffs the Passenger Pigeon unceremoniously into his bag and moves on to the next bird…

(read more: Biodiversity Heritage Library)

The Broad-billed Parrot(Lophopsittacus mauritianus)
… was a large parrot, now extinct, endemic to the Mascarene island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. It is unclear what other species it is most closely related to. It had similarities with the Rodrigues parrot, and may have been closely related.
The broad-billed parrot’s head was large in proportion to its body, and there was a distinct crest of feathers on the front of the head. The bird had a very large beak, comparable in size to that of the hyacinth macaw, which would have enabled it to crack hard seeds. Subfossil bones indicate that the species exhibited greater sexual dimorphism in overall size and head size than any living parrot.
The exact colouration is unknown, but a contemporary description indicates that it had a blue head, a greyish or blackish body, and perhaps a red beak. It is believed to have been a weak flier, but not flightless…
(read more: Wikipedia)
illustration by Henrik Grönvold made for Rothschild’s 1907 book, based on a tracing of the Gelderland sketch

The Broad-billed Parrot(Lophopsittacus mauritianus)

… was a large parrot, now extinct, endemic to the Mascarene island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. It is unclear what other species it is most closely related to. It had similarities with the Rodrigues parrot, and may have been closely related.

The broad-billed parrot’s head was large in proportion to its body, and there was a distinct crest of feathers on the front of the head. The bird had a very large beak, comparable in size to that of the hyacinth macaw, which would have enabled it to crack hard seeds. Subfossil bones indicate that the species exhibited greater sexual dimorphism in overall size and head size than any living parrot.

The exact colouration is unknown, but a contemporary description indicates that it had a blue head, a greyish or blackish body, and perhaps a red beak. It is believed to have been a weak flier, but not flightless…

(read more: Wikipedia)

illustration by Henrik Grönvold made for Rothschild’s 1907 book, based on a tracing of the Gelderland sketch

When the Last of the Great Auks Died, It Was by the Crush of a Fisherman’s Boot
Birds once plentiful and abundant, are the subject of a new exhibition at the Natural History Museum
by Samantha Galasso

It was not until the mid-16th century when European sailors began to explore the seas, harvesting the eggs of nesting adults that the Great Auk faced imminent danger. “Overharvesting by people doomed the species to extinction,” says Helen James, curator of the exhibition and a research zoologist at the Natural History Museum. “Living in the north Atlantic where there were plenty of sailors and fishermen at sea over the centuries, and having the habit of breeding colonially on only a small number of islands, was a lethal combination of traits for the Great Auk.”
The auks required very specific nesting conditions that restricted them to a small number of islands. They showed a preference for Funk Island, off the coast of Newfoundland, and Geirfuglasker and Eldey islands, off the coast of Iceland, and St. Kilda, all of which provided rocky terrain and sloping shorelines with access to the seashore. A sailor wrote that in 1718, Funk Island was so populated by Great Auks that “a man could not go ashore upon those islands without boots, for otherwise they would spoil his legs, that they were entirely covered with those fowls, so close that a man could not put his foot between them.”…
(read more: Smithsonian Magazine)
illustration by JG Keulemans

When the Last of the Great Auks Died, It Was by the Crush of a Fisherman’s Boot

Birds once plentiful and abundant, are the subject of a new exhibition at the Natural History Museum

by Samantha Galasso

It was not until the mid-16th century when European sailors began to explore the seas, harvesting the eggs of nesting adults that the Great Auk faced imminent danger. “Overharvesting by people doomed the species to extinction,” says Helen James, curator of the exhibition and a research zoologist at the Natural History Museum. “Living in the north Atlantic where there were plenty of sailors and fishermen at sea over the centuries, and having the habit of breeding colonially on only a small number of islands, was a lethal combination of traits for the Great Auk.”

The auks required very specific nesting conditions that restricted them to a small number of islands. They showed a preference for Funk Island, off the coast of Newfoundland, and Geirfuglasker and Eldey islands, off the coast of Iceland, and St. Kilda, all of which provided rocky terrain and sloping shorelines with access to the seashore. A sailor wrote that in 1718, Funk Island was so populated by Great Auks that “a man could not go ashore upon those islands without boots, for otherwise they would spoil his legs, that they were entirely covered with those fowls, so close that a man could not put his foot between them.”…

(read more: Smithsonian Magazine)

illustration by JG Keulemans

Once There Were Billions: Heath Hen
To help tell the story of four extinct bird species, BHL and the Smithsonian Libraries co-curated an exhibition—Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America—at the National Museum of Natural History.  The exhibit runs through October 2015.  If you’re not in the area, you can still enjoy the online exhibit or browse digital versions of the select exhibit books in BHL.
You can also follow along here on the BHL blog where we’re showcasing each of the four species, starting with the Great Auk and the Carolina Parakeet. 
During colonial times, Heath Hens (Tympanuchus cupido cupido) flourished among the heathland barrens of coastal North America from Maine to Virginia. Tasty and easy to kill, they were popular among early settler, and their numbers quickly declined from overhunting, habitat loss, and disease…
(read more: Biodiversity Heritage Library)
illustration from Feathered Game of the Northeast. Walter Herbert Rich,New York: T.Y. Crowell & Co, 1907

Once There Were Billions: Heath Hen

To help tell the story of four extinct bird species, BHL and the Smithsonian Libraries co-curated an exhibition—Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America—at the National Museum of Natural History.  The exhibit runs through October 2015.  If you’re not in the area, you can still enjoy the online exhibit or browse digital versions of the select exhibit books in BHL.

You can also follow along here on the BHL blog where we’re showcasing each of the four species, starting with the Great Auk and the Carolina Parakeet

During colonial times, Heath Hens (Tympanuchus cupido cupido) flourished among the heathland barrens of coastal North America from Maine to Virginia. Tasty and easy to kill, they were popular among early settler, and their numbers quickly declined from overhunting, habitat loss, and disease…

(read more: Biodiversity Heritage Library)

illustration from Feathered Game of the Northeast. Walter Herbert Rich,
New York: T.Y. Crowell & Co, 1907

The male Panamanian Golden Frog (Atelopus zeteki) has a subtle way of attracting females… it waves. This friendly gesture can arouse the attention of a rival male, which often ends in a wrestling match.

* Since this footage was filmed, this species has gone extinct in the wild due to the deadly chytrid fungus. Conservationists now care for the last of this frog in various zoos and other institutions.

with David Attenborrough

(via: Nature - PBS)

Genetic study finds population ebbed and flowed before people began hunting the birds

When the last passenger pigeon died at a zoo in 1914, the species became a cautionary tale of the dramatic impact humans can have on the world. But a new study finds that the bird experienced multiple population booms and crashes over the million years before its final demise. The sensitivity of the population to natural fluctuations, the authors argue, could have been what made it so vulnerable to extinction…

The World’s Most Endangered Frogs:
Kihansi Spray Toad (Nectophrynoides asperginis)
Status: Extinct in the Wild
As its name suggests, the Kihansi Spray Toad was once found in the spray of the Kihansi Falls in Tanzania. It is now considered extinct in the wild. A hydroelectric dam built upstream of the falls is blamed for this decline. The dam cut off 90 percent of the original water flow, reducing the volume of spray around the falls and altering the vegetation.
(read more: Nature - PBS)
photo by Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society

The World’s Most Endangered Frogs:

Kihansi Spray Toad (Nectophrynoides asperginis)

Status: Extinct in the Wild

As its name suggests, the Kihansi Spray Toad was once found in the spray of the Kihansi Falls in Tanzania. It is now considered extinct in the wild. A hydroelectric dam built upstream of the falls is blamed for this decline. The dam cut off 90 percent of the original water flow, reducing the volume of spray around the falls and altering the vegetation.

(read more: Nature - PBS)

photo by Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society

palaeopedia
palaeopedia:

The mediterranean Monk Seal, Monachus monachus (1779)
Phylum : ChordataClass : MammaliaOrder : CarnivoraSuborder : PinnipediaFamily : PhocidaeGenus : MonachusSpecies : M. monachus
Critically endangered
2,4 m long and 300 kg (size)
Mediterranean sea (map)
The monk seals’ pups are about a meter long and weigh around 15–18 kilograms, their skin being covered by 1–1.5 centimeter-long, dark brown to black hair. On their bellies, there is a white stripe, which differs in color between the two sexes. This hair is replaced after six to eight weeks by the usual short hair adults carry.
Pregnant Mediterranean monk seals typically use inaccessible undersea caves while giving birth, though historical descriptions show they used open beaches until the 18th century. There are eight pairs of teeth in both jaws.
Believed to have the shortest hair of any pinniped, the Mediterranean monk seal fur is black (males) or brown to dark grey (females), with a paler belly, which is close to white in males. The snout is short broad and flat, with very pronounced, long nostrils that face upward, unlike their Hawaiian relative, which tend to have more forward nostrils. The flippers are relatively short, with small slender claws. Monk seals have two pairs of retractable abdominal teats, unlike most other pinnipeds…
(read more)

palaeopedia:

The mediterranean Monk Seal, Monachus monachus (1779)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Carnivora
Suborder : Pinnipedia
Family : Phocidae
Genus : Monachus
Species : M. monachus

  • Critically endangered
  • 2,4 m long and 300 kg (size)
  • Mediterranean sea (map)

The monk seals’ pups are about a meter long and weigh around 15–18 kilograms, their skin being covered by 1–1.5 centimeter-long, dark brown to black hair. On their bellies, there is a white stripe, which differs in color between the two sexes. This hair is replaced after six to eight weeks by the usual short hair adults carry.

Pregnant Mediterranean monk seals typically use inaccessible undersea caves while giving birth, though historical descriptions show they used open beaches until the 18th century. There are eight pairs of teeth in both jaws.

Believed to have the shortest hair of any pinniped, the Mediterranean monk seal fur is black (males) or brown to dark grey (females), with a paler belly, which is close to white in males. The snout is short broad and flat, with very pronounced, long nostrils that face upward, unlike their Hawaiian relative, which tend to have more forward nostrils. The flippers are relatively short, with small slender claws. Monk seals have two pairs of retractable abdominal teats, unlike most other pinnipeds…

(read more)

dendroica
unknown-endangered:

Guam Rail (Gallirallus owstoni)
Extinct in the Wild
Gallirallus owstoni, also known as the ko’ko’, is a flightless bird endemic to the island of Guam in the western Pacific Ocean. It disappeared from Guam in the late 1980s due to predation by invasive species, especially cats and snakes. The most serious threat to this species, and many others on Guam, is the brown tree snake, which was accidentally introduced to the island in the 1940s from Papua New Guinea. As for many island animals, the native birds of Guam had no defences against unfamiliar predators, and their numbers declined rapidly. 
Captive breeding programmes have been active since the 1980s. In 1995, G. owstoni began to be introduced to the island of Rota, although predation by cats was severe, and few birds survived. In 2010, 16 birds were introduced to Cocos Island, just offshore of Guam. Rats were eradicated and monitor lizard numbers were reduced prior to introduction. There is evidence that this population is now breeding.
Photo: Greg Hume on Wikipedia.

unknown-endangered:

Guam Rail (Gallirallus owstoni)

Extinct in the Wild

Gallirallus owstoni, also known as the ko’ko’, is a flightless bird endemic to the island of Guam in the western Pacific Ocean. It disappeared from Guam in the late 1980s due to predation by invasive species, especially cats and snakes. The most serious threat to this species, and many others on Guam, is the brown tree snake, which was accidentally introduced to the island in the 1940s from Papua New Guinea. As for many island animals, the native birds of Guam had no defences against unfamiliar predators, and their numbers declined rapidly. 

Captive breeding programmes have been active since the 1980s. In 1995, G. owstoni began to be introduced to the island of Rota, although predation by cats was severe, and few birds survived. In 2010, 16 birds were introduced to Cocos Island, just offshore of Guam. Rats were eradicated and monitor lizard numbers were reduced prior to introduction. There is evidence that this population is now breeding.

Photo: Greg Hume on Wikipedia.

unknown-endangered
unknown-endangered:

Kihansi spray toad (Nectophrynoides asperginis)
Extinct in the Wild
Nectophrynoides asperginis is endemic to the Kihansi Falls in eastern Tanzania. It is specially adapted to cope with the spray from the falls by having flaps covering the nostrils. It may also communicate with others visually, instead of calling, due to the noise of the falls. It is ovoviviparous, and gives birth to live young after the tadpoles develop while still inside the female. 
In 2000, a dam was built upstream of the habitat of N. asperginis, which greatly reduced the water flow and quality of the water. In 1999, there were an estimated 20,000 individuals in the Upper Spray Wetland, but it was declared extinct in the wild in 2009. 
Several facilities in the US have been breeding N. asperginis since 2000, when 499 toads were collected from the wild. By 2012, over 6000 had been raised and 2500 were reintroduced to Tanzania. Studies into this species’ diet, and the microclimate and vegetation of its habitat have helped to improve the chances of a successful reintroduction. 
Photo: Tim Herman on IUCN.

unknown-endangered:

Kihansi spray toad (Nectophrynoides asperginis)

Extinct in the Wild

Nectophrynoides asperginis is endemic to the Kihansi Falls in eastern Tanzania. It is specially adapted to cope with the spray from the falls by having flaps covering the nostrils. It may also communicate with others visually, instead of calling, due to the noise of the falls. It is ovoviviparous, and gives birth to live young after the tadpoles develop while still inside the female. 

In 2000, a dam was built upstream of the habitat of N. asperginis, which greatly reduced the water flow and quality of the water. In 1999, there were an estimated 20,000 individuals in the Upper Spray Wetland, but it was declared extinct in the wild in 2009. 

Several facilities in the US have been breeding N. asperginis since 2000, when 499 toads were collected from the wild. By 2012, over 6000 had been raised and 2500 were reintroduced to Tanzania. Studies into this species’ diet, and the microclimate and vegetation of its habitat have helped to improve the chances of a successful reintroduction. 

Photo: Tim Herman on IUCN.