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Lost Frogs May Be Extinct, Sign Of 'The Sixth Great Extinction' (PHOTOS)

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Scientists around the world have come up short after an unprecedented attempt to locate 100 species of "lost" frogs, salamanders, and caecilians. These amphibians have all been missing for over a decade, and now scientists fear they are extinct.

The Search for Lost Frogs, organized by Conservation International, the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group, and Global Wildlife Conservation, involved 126 researchers seeking to document the existence of threatened species.

But after a five-month search, only four out of 100 missing species have been located. Conservationists believe that these shockingly low numbers should be a signal to countries that greater efforts must be taken to protect environmentally sensitive species. Over 30 percent of amphibians are threatened with extinction due to habitat loss and a deadly fungus.

The four located species included the Cave Splayfoot Salamander of Mexico (last seen in 1941), the Mount Nimba Reed of the Ivory Coast (last seen in 1967), the Omaniundu Reed Frog of Democratic Republic of Congo (last seen in 1979), and the Critically Endangered Rio Pescado stubfoot toad of Ecuador (last seen in 1995).

While the four discoveries offer a glimmer of hope, the future may be grim. As CI's amphibian expert Dr. Robin Moore remarks, "Rediscoveries provide reason for hope for these species, but the flip side of the coin is that the vast majority of species that teams were looking for were not found. This is a reminder that we are in the midst of what is being called the Sixth Great Extinction with species disappearing at 100 to 1000 times the historic rate... We need to turn these discoveries and rediscoveries into an opportunity to stem the crisis by focusing on protecting one of the most vulnerable groups of animals and their critical habitats."

All photos and credits courtesy of the Lost Frogs/Amphibian Campaign.

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