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Famous Frog Toughie Dies, Sending Species to Extinction


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And then there were none. Toughie, the world's last Rabbs' fringe-limbed tree frog and a symbol of the extinction crisis, has died at his home in the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The famed frog's age is unknown, but he's at least 12 years old, and likely older, because he was an adult when collected in 2005. Mark Mandica, who worked with Toughie for seven years, says the frog's story isn't entirely unique. “A lot of attention had been paid to him in captivity, so he even has his own Wikipedia page,” Mandica, head of the Amphibian Foundation, notes. “But there are plenty of other species out there that are disappearing, sometimes before we even knew that they were there.” In fact, Toughie's own species (Ecnomiohyla rabborum) wasn't described until 2008, a few years after Toughie was found during a 2005 frog rescue mission by the Atlanta Botanical Garden and Zoo Atlanta. He was one of many frogs scientists raced to collect as the deadly chytrid fungus closed in on central Panama.“It was likened to just rescuing things from a burning house,” Mandica says. The species occurred in a very small range, at an elevation where the fungus proved especially deadly. Field studies suggest up to 85 percent of all the amphibians on Toughie's home turf were wiped out. It's unlikely that any of his kind survived in the wild, where they were incredible climbers and also graceful gliders—toe webbing allowed them to soar from one tree to the next.

Naming a Survivor

Mandica's son, then a two-year-old, dubbed the last survivor Toughie. Naming animals isn't the norm among scientists, but the frog's popularity as the last of his kind meant that people (and the press) kept demanding a name—and Toughie stuck. Although he gave voice to the plight of endangered species, Toughie was silent for all the years he lived at the botanical garden, until one fateful morning in 2014 when Mandica captured the only existing example of the Rabbs' fringe-limbed tree frog's call. “I heard this weird call coming out of the frog [area], and I knew it had to be him, because I knew what all the other species sounded like. I was able to sneak in and record him on my phone.”

 

Read More: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/09/toughie-rabbs-fringe-limbed-tree-frog-dies-goes-extinct/

 

 

Posted by on Oct 2 2016. Filed under Biodiversity. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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