Psychedelic toad comes back from the dead

By Jessica Campion 7 November 2013
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The vibrantly coloured Bornean rainbow toad, missing for 90 years, has been rediscovered in Malaysia.

FOR NEARLY 90 YEARS the only testament to the existence of the Bornean rainbow toad – pictured above – were a few sketches of the weird spindly legged creature penned in 1924 by the European explorers who discovered it.

Since then the animal had never been seen again, leading many to believe it had become extinct, and the IUCN placed it on their list of the ‘World’s Top 10 Most Wanted Lost Frogs’. But after an 87-year wait, the psychedelic amphibian (Ansonia latidisca) has been spotted once more – and this time photographed in exquisite detail.

According to Conservation International, which released the images this week, three of the toads were discovered last year in the dense forest of the Malaysian state of Sarawak.

Dr. Indraneil Das of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, led an expedition in mid-2010 to explore the 1,300m-high ridges of the Gunung Penrissen range of Western Sarawak, which forms a natural border with the Indonesian part of Borneo.  One of Das’ graduate students found the toads two metres up in a tree in August, after several months of searching.

Psychadelic toad find a thrilling discovery

“Thrilling discoveries like this beautiful toad, and the critical importance of amphibians to healthy ecosystems, are what fuel us to keep searching for lost species,” Das says. “They remind us that nature holds precious secrets that we are still uncovering. This is why targeted protection and conservation are so important. Amphibians are indicators of environmental health, with direct implications for human health.”  

Read more about CI’s campaign to find lost frogs: