Sunday Species Snapshot: Panamanian Golden Frog
by John R. Platt
These tiny, brightly colored amphibians pack a potent neurotoxin on their skin. That toxin protected them from predators, but it won’t save them from extinction. They haven’t been seen in the wild in seven years.
Species name: Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki). This is actually a misnomer. These “frogs” are actually toads!
Where found: The mountain ranges and streams of central Panama. Well, that’s where they used to be found…
IUCN Red List status: Officially they are still listed as critically endangered, but populations of this species have crashed so dramatically that they may actually be functionally extinct, if not already extinct, in the wild. The last documented frog in the wild was seen in 2007.
Major threat: Long protected under Panamanian law, the golden frogs have faced numerous threats ranging from deforestation to water pollution to the pet trade. But it was the arrival of the amphibian-killing disease chytridiomycosis in 2004 which effectively (and quite quickly) wiped out this species…
(read more: Scientific American)
image by Heather Paul via Flickr.