Rare Toad Not Seen for 87 Years Discovered in Borneo

Team found toad in rugged mountains

By Greg Wilson
|  Thursday, Jul 14, 2011  |  Updated 8:39 AM EDT
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Rare Toad Not Seen for 87 Years Discovered in Borneo

AP

The Bornean Rainbow Toad, also referred to as Sambas Stream Toad, had not been seen in nearly a century.

A colorful toad not seen for 87 years has resurfaced on its native island of Borneo.

The Sambas Stream toad, also known as the Rainbow Toad, was last seen in 1924 before a scientific expedition searched it out in a remote mountain region on the Malaysian island. The team, from a Malyasian university, kept moving to ever-higher and more rugged levels of the Gunung Penrissen mountains before making the discovery, said leader Indraneil Das.

"Thrilling discoveries like this beautiful toad, and the critical importance of amphibians to healthy ecosystems, are what fuel us to keep searching for lost species," Das said.

The long-legged, multicolored toad was described by European explorers in the 1920s. Das' team identified three individuals — an adult female, an adult male and a juvenile, ranging in size from roughly an inch to 2 inches. The team would not give the precise location of the discovery for fear of collectors chasing after the tree-dwelling toads.

Robin Moore of Conservation International, an expert on amphibians, said he was amazed to hear of the discovery.

"When I saw an email with the subject 'Ansonia latidisca found' pop into my in-box, I could barely believe my eyes," he said. "Attached was an image — proof in the form of the first-ever photograph of the colorful and gangly tree-dwelling toad. The species was transformed in my mind from a black-and-white illustration to a living, colorful creature.”

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