Frog Species Missing for 62 Years Found Alive

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Just in time to prepare for April's National Frog Month, the Cardioglossa cyaneospila--also known as the Bururi long-fingered frog--has reappeared, ending rumors about the amphibian's extinction. A single specimen of the frog was found recently by herpetologists from the California Academy of Sciences and University of Texas at El Paso during a research expedition in the small African nation of Burundi.

Before this sighting, the last Bururi long-fingered frog was seen in 1949. Due to this long absence, scientists feared that the frog had become extinct, especially considering the destructive turmoil that had been plaguing Burundi.

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Now reseachers are holding out hope that this rediscovery could mean that the amphibian population is safe.

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The man who rediscovered the C. cyaneospila, California Academy of Sciences curator David Blackburn, said the key to his find was simply "tremendous luck." Blackburn, not knowing what the long-fingered frog's call sounded like, listened for calls that were similar to those of the Bururi frog's closest relative. On the fifth night of the expedition, Blackburn followed one of those calls straight to a single Bururi long-fingered frog.

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The Bururi long-fingered frog is not exactly easy to spot. The males of the species do sport one unusually long finger, but the black and blue-grey amphibian only measures in at 1.5 inches long.

The one frog that came out of hiding is now safely hopping around the Academy's herpetology collection. Researchers hope studies of the specimen will advance understanding on African climate conditions and why over a thousand miles separate the Bururi frog from its closest relative.

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While Blackburn and the rest of the team could only find the one frog, they heard numerous Burui calls throughout the expedition. They hope this is a sign that a large and thriving C. cyaneospila colony exists in the Burundi wilderness. You have to love a "hoppy" ending.

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