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Frog long thought extinct rediscovered in Israel

Hula painted frog turns out to be the only surviving member of an extinct genus

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11:05am, June 4, 2013

NOT DEAD YET  The Hula painted frog, long thought extinct, has  been rediscovered living in Israel's wetlands. Scientists have reclassified the  frog as the only living species of the Latonia genus, a group of frogs that lived millions of years ago.

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A species of frog once considered extinct hasn’t actually croaked.

The discovery of living, breathing Hula painted frogs has allowed the amphibians to hop back onto scientists’ radar, and the orange-speckled animal isn’t quite what researchers thought it was.

When scientists first spotted the painted frog in the 1940s in Israel’s Hula Valley, they classified it as Discoglossus nigriventer for its disklike tongue and unusual black belly. But since 1955, no one had confirmed another sighting. In the last two years, scientists were surprised to find 11 of the frogs sprinkled through a patch of wetlands in the same valley.

After analyzing the frogs’ physical features and DNA, Sarig Gafny of the Ruppin Academic Center in Michmoret, Israel, and colleagues conclude that the painted frog is not a member of the Discoglossus genus after all. Instead, the frog has jumped into the genus Latonia, researchers report June 4 in Nature Communications. That genus consists of a group of amphibians that lived from the Oligocene to Pleistocene epochs, and apart from the Hula painted frog, went extinct by about 12,000 years ago.

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