The word "extinction" typically means something that doesn't exist anymore. Well, that surely does not apply to the Hula painted frog was thought to be extinct since 1955, has been spotted.
Officially listed as extinct in 1996, the Hula painted frog is the first amphibian to have been declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It has been named a "living fossil" after it was rediscovered alive and well in northern Israel, researchers said Tuesday, according to the Daily Mail.
In November 2011, a female specimen believed to be one of the extinct frogs was spotted. Now a team of Israeli, German and French researchers report in the scientific journal Nature Communications on an in-depth scientific analysis of this enigmatic amphibian. The study found that the Hula painted frog, an amphibian endemic to the lake Hula marshes, belongs to an extinct type of amphibian known until now only through 35 million years old fossils.
The team then carried out a DNA test on the specimens, and compared the genome, body shape and bones against painted frogs from northern and western Africa.
"This is a discovery comparable in its importance to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls," the study said. "The Hula painted frog is a part of Israel's heritage. We're afraid it may become extinct, this time forever."
"We felt like we had a great finding when we first rediscovered it - this (frog) was like an idol in Israel, Professor Sarig Gafny, from the Ruppin Academic Center, in Israel, told BBC News "But then we found it was a living fossil: this was amazing."
Researchers evaluated the genetic material from the Hula frogs of the rediscovered individuals and the morphologic analyses of extant and fossil bones, and concluded that the Hula frog is completely different from its other living relatives, the painted frogs from northern and western Africa. Instead, the Hula frog is related to a genus of fossil frogs, Latonia, which were found over much of Europe dating back to prehistoric periods and has been considered extinct for about a million years,
The results imply that the Hula painted frog is not merely another rare species of frog, but is actually the sole representative of an ancient clade of frogs.