My frog is ALIVE!

I am quite proud that I have one species of animal named after me: Atelopus coynei, a small “harlequin frog” that was first caught (by me, when I was a student) in the forests of western Ecuador.  It was formally described by my best friend in graduate school, the polymath Ken Miyata (co-author of Tropical Nature), who, tragically, was killed in a fishing accident in 1983.  The story of Ken, how he came to name the frog after me, and other details of these beautiful creatures (I include Ken in that category), are described here, here, and here.

For years Atelopus coynei has been thought to be extinct: it’s a denizen of the wet forests of western Ecuador, which are being lost to human depredation at an alarming rate; and of course frogs worldwide are being decimated by a chytrid fungus.  A. coynei has not, in fact, been seen since 1984.

Until a week ago.

I found out yesterday that it’s STILL ALIVE!  Here’s a short email I received last night.

I would like to inform you about my observation of an individual of “Atelopus coynei” on February 7, 2012 at Chinambi, Carchi, Ecuador. Attached are 2 photographs. The species is listed as Critically Endangered.

Best regards,

Dr. Andreas Kay, Cotacachi, Ecuador

Dr. Kay enclosed two photographs he took of the living frog, which are only the second and third pictures that have been made. It’s far prettier than the pickled type specimen at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, which lost its color (click to enlarge to full glory):

 

Perhaps I’m too steeped in theology, but I sense a metaphor here: like the memory of my erstwhile best pal, the frog is still with us.





				

30 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    That frog’s a beauty.

  2. NewEnglandBob
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Congratulations, your progeny exist! ;)

  3. Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    This news makes me hoppy.

    • Jen
      Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      +1

      Ha!

  4. daveau
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Lovely. All of it.

  5. Dominic
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    What a beauty – let us hope it sticks its tongue out at the threat of extinction.

  6. Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Congratulations! What a beauty.

  7. SplendidMonkey
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Happy Story!

  8. Jen
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    How immensely cool to have this beautiful creature scientifically named in your honor, and that it has been sighted again. I like this kind of news. :-)

  9. dunstar
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    thats pretty cool.

  10. Posted February 16, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Great news! And great pix. Anyone who wants to know more about the disturbing trend of amphibian decline and extinction should have a look at Extinction in Our Times by Jim Collins and Marty Crump.

    • Occam
      Posted February 16, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Extinction in Our Times:
      clinically depressing, and our eternal shame. An intelligent species would wake up and react.

  11. Posted February 16, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Definitely as a result of quantum entanglement with the will of the Great Frog God.

  12. Posted February 16, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Pretty big nose on that frog, don’t you think??

  13. Posted February 16, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    What excellent news!!! Does this live in lower-elevation forests? The lower elevation Atelopus here in Ecuador are mostly free of the frog-killing fungus. The fungus doesn’t thrive at high temperatures. Most of the highland species here now seem to be truly extinct, though occasionally there are surprises.

  14. Occam
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Ceiling Frog smileth upon thee!
    I can see the headline:
    Frog’s Not Dead!

    • GBJames
      Posted February 16, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Frog bless us, every one.

      • Posted February 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        Through the resonant vibrations of the quantum cosmos…..OOOOMMMM….RIBBIT.

  15. TJR
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Quick, someone find Brian Blessed

    Atelopus coynei IS ALIVE!!

  16. mat'iibn
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Critically endangered…well…just for fun then…how many to make a pair of cowboy boots?

  17. Posted February 16, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    It’s nice to know that your frog didn’t croak!

  18. Posted February 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Groovy post! Because…

    ** it’s a frog beauty ~ though it’s a given that all frogs are beautiful ~ why would any frog aspire to be a prince?

    ** it’s YOUR frog

    ** of your touching remark about the RIP Ken being also in the class of beautiful creatures

    ** of the use of the word denizen ~ ‘denizen’ doesn’t get enough airplay outside of Attenborough & monster movies. For some reason the word has become wrongly solely associated with, mystery, the deep & the dark

  19. Marella
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    How lovely, this is the best news I’ve had all day.

  20. Jim Thomerson
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    I envy you your frog. Mine is an ugly little catfish.:-(

    http://www.fishbase.org/summary/Rhinodoras-thomersoni.html

    All the half dozen or so species of Rhinodoras are named for ichthyologists, so I am in good company, anyway.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 17, 2012 at 1:54 am | Permalink

      Link didn’t work for me, but hey–how cool to have any species named for you!

  21. Posted February 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    THAT IS AWESOME!!!

  22. Posted February 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Ahh yes, it looks just like you.

  23. Achrachno
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    That is a fine looking frog!

    But what’s he got stuck on his side? An insect wing?

  24. Diane G.
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    The frog abides.

    WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW!

    Gorgeous creature, to boot. (So to speak…)

  25. Posted January 12, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    We must really work to combat human induced extinction that is having a irreversible and dangerous consequences on evolution of species and contributing to loss of diversity of life.


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Atelopus coynei, a small “harlequin frog” which lived in Ecuador, was thought to be extinct. It isn’t!!!! That is always good [...]

  2. […] our fault, of course: habitat destruction and hunting. But for unknown reasons they left out Atelopus coynei, which, I’m now informed, may also be extinct—after having been rediscovered only a few […]

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