Rediscovered – 160 years on!

Starry frog

Pseudophilautus stellatus. Photo by L. J. Mendis Wickramasinghe

In 1853, a single specimen of an unusual tree frog was first discovered by Dr Edward Kelaarton on the Island of Sri Lanka – the bright green specimen was about 5.5 cm long and its skin had a covering of  black outlined speckles on its back. The spotting provided Dr Edward with a name for his new frog  – a ‘Starry frog’, but the frog was a one off, and no-one has seen or heard of it since (even the specimen went missing!)

…That was until a recent expedition into the remote Peak Wilderness area of Sri Lanka came across a most stunning speckled frog – and the rediscovery of  Kelaart’s starry shrub frog, Pseudophilautus stellatus, was made. L. J. Mendis Wickramasinghe, the lead author of the paper announcing the discovery, mentions that between himself and the other scientists involved only 78 specimens were found during their surveys. The paper also highlights that one of the worst threats to the newly rediscovered frogs is the fact that the surrounding forest is now struggling to regenerate and grow properly,  a phenomenon possibly caused by pollution and/or climate change, and something never documented in this particular region before.

L. J. Mendis Wickramasinghe et al.: Lost and found: One of the world’s most elusive amphibians, Pseudophilautus stellatus (Kelaart 1853) rediscovered In: Zootaxa 3620 (1): 112–128 (March, 2013)

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