Thought extinct for 30 years, the starry night harlequin toad is rediscovered. It is named for the clear, starry skies in its mountain habitat of Colombia.
A toad thought extinct for 30 years has again seen the light of day, at less than two inches in size, and with a stunning coloration of shiny black skin with white spots, these marvelous little critters can be found in just one location Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, one of the tallest and most remote coastal mountain ranges on Earth. In fact, the amphibian’s common name is an ode to clear, dark skies above this region.
For several decades, biologists had feared the critically endangered species was lost, yet another casualty of the rapid spread of an amphibian-killing fungus known as chytrid. Unfortunately, scientists have found that chytrid hits harlequin toads especially hard. Of the 96 species of toads in the Atelopus genus, a whopping 80 are thought to be endangered, critically endangered, or extinct in the wild.