Thursday, September 11, 2008

World's rarest tree frog found

An extremely rare female frog has been spotted for the first time in 20 years.

The tiny amphibian, Isthmohyla rivularis, is carrying eggs, suggesting that the species is doing well.

The discovery was filmed by the BBC in the Costa Rican jungle as part of a scientific expedition with a team from Manchester University and Chester Zoo as they work on conservation programmes for rare frogs.

Andrew Gray describes the find.

Additional footage courtesy of Alexander Villegas

Check story for video

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'Extinct' frogs survive devastating fungus

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- A tiny frog species thought by many experts to be extinct has been rediscovered alive and well in a remote area of Australia's tropical north, researchers said Thursday.

The Armoured Mistfrog had been seen since 1991 until it was found in Australia's tropical north.

The Armoured Mistfrog had been seen since 1991 until it was found in Australia's tropical north.

The 40 millimeters-long (1.5 inch) Armoured Mistfrog had not been seen since 1991, and many experts assumed it had been wiped out by a devastating fungus that struck northern Queensland state.

But two months ago, a doctoral student at James Cook University in Townsville conducting research on another frog species in Queensland stumbled across what appeared to be several Armoured Mistfrogs in a creek, said professor Ross Alford, head of a research team on threatened frogs at the university.

Conrad Hoskin, a researcher at The Australian National University in Canberra who has been studying the evolutionary biology of north Queensland frogs for the past 10 years, conducted DNA tests on tissue samples from the frogs and determined they were the elusive Armoured Mistfrog.

Alford's group got the results on Wednesday. A spokeswoman for the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency also confirmed Hoskin's findings.

"A lot of us were starting to believe it had gone extinct, so to discover it now is amazing," Hoskin said. "It means some of the other species that are missing could potentially just be hidden away along some of the streams up there."

Craig Franklin, a zoology professor at The University of Queensland who studies frogs, said the Mistfrog's rediscovery was exciting.

"It's very significant," Franklin said. "We've lost so many frog species in Australia ... Hopefully it's a population that's making a comeback."

The light brown frogs, with dark brown spots, congregate in areas with fast-flowing water. So far, between 30 and 40 have been found.

The chytrid fungus was blamed for decimating frog populations worldwide, including seven species in Queensland's tropics between the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Armoured Mistfrogs had been classified as critically endangered rather than extinct, but most researchers believed they had died out from the disease, Alford said.

Most of the Armoured Mistfrogs that Alford's group has found are infected with the fungus, but the disease does not appear to be making them sick, he said.

Alford and his team plan to study the creatures to try and determine how they managed to coexist with the fungus, in a bid to aid future conservation and management of vulnerable frogs.


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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Armstrong returning to cycling

Lance Armstrong's return to win a seventh consecutive tour made him a nationwide hero.
Lance Armstrong's return to win a seventh consecutive tour made him a nationwide hero.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Lance Armstrong is getting back on his bike, determined to win an eighth Tour de France.

Armstrong's return from cancer to win the Tour a record seven consecutive times made him a hero to cancer patients worldwide and elevated cycling to an unprecedented level in America.

The Tour "is the intention," Armstrong's spokesman Mark Higgins told The Associated Press, "but we've got some homework to do over there."

Added Bill Stapleton, Armstrong's lawyer and longtime confidant: "We're not going to try to win second place."

Complete Story

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