Frog Named for Darwin Goes Extinct

And more dour animal news
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2013 7:22 AM CST
Darwin's Frog (the southern Rhinoderma darwinii); this one is not extinct, but its numbers have dropped precipitously.   (Wikimedia Commons / Mono Andes)
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(Newser) – Charles Darwin discovered them in 1834, during a stop in Chile by way of the HMS Beagle, a species unique in that "the males care for their young by incubating them in their vocal sacs for at least part of their development." Now, one of the two species found by and named after him can only be referred to in the past tense. Researchers believe the northern Darwin's frog (Rhinoderma rufum), last seen in the wild in 1980, has been wiped from the planet in part by the skin-infecting fungal disease chytridiomycosis; the population of the southern Rhinoderma darwinii has plunged precipitously, reports Reuters. The findings, published last week in PLOS ONE, were the work of Chile's Universidad Andres Bello and Zoological Society of London. Noted a professor with the latter: "Only a few examples of the 'extinction by infection' phenomenon exist."

Meanwhile, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature today announced that two species have inched closer to extinction: the giraffe-like Okapi and the White-winged Flufftail. The Okapi, found only in the Democratic Republic of Congo's rainforests, is being battered by poaching, rebel occupation, and illegal mining; IUCN notes the animal has special importance for the country, though, and appears on Congolese franc banknotes. The bird, found in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, has suffered a loss of its wetland habitat. But one glimmer of good news, per the AFP: Two kinds of albatross, the Leatherback Turtle, and the Island Fox are starting to bounce back. (Read more Charles Darwin stories.)

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