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In the news: between June 8 - 22, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in the media between June 8-22, 2015

"Extinct" Amphibians Rediscovered After Nearly Half a Century - National Geographic

Two species of amphibians thought lost to science have been found again in the mountain forests of the Philippines.

It had been 50 years since anyone laid eyes on the Malatgan River caecilian, a legless amphibian native to the island province of Palawan in thePhilippines.

Scientists feared the species, whose written record was lost in a museum destroyed during the Battle of Manila in World War II, was gone forever.

That is, until a team of scientists saw something slithering through the dirt during a recent trip to the Philippines.

"It was basically a coincidence," says Rafe Brown, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Kansas who was on the expedition team led by the Philippines-based Centre for Sustainability. "One of the students happened to be walking by it and thought it was a worm. But lo and behold, it was a Malatgan River caecilian."

Brown and his team have been wading across rivers and sifting through mud in the Palawan (map) backcountry for over 15 years looking for signs of this and other species lost to science.

When the expedition finally stumbled across the serpentine amphibian, it was at the end of a road and a seven-hour hike beyond that from the nearest village. The area is known as Cleopatra's Needle.

"This is an animal that doesn't have any flashy colors or anything like that, but it's one of those last, iconic species that we couldn't find," says Brown.

Remarkably, the expedition also found the Palawan toadlet (Pelophryne albotaeniata), which had been missing for the last 40 years.

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