Rare salamander spotted for the first time in 40 years

Researchers have rediscovered the Jackson's salamander, proving the elusive amphibian is not extinct after all.
By Tracy Williams | Nov 03, 2017
Researchers from Guatemala have discovered a lost species of salamander for the first time in 40 years.

The amphibian -- known as the Jackson's Climbing Salamander -- was last seen in 1975, leading most scientists to believe that it had gone extinct. However, that changed when aguard at the Finca San Isidro Amphibian Reserve in the Cuchumatanes Mountains spotted the black-and-yellow amphibian and sent a picture to Carlos Vasquez, a curator of herpetology at USAC University in Guatemala.

Vazquez spent nearly 3,000 hours searching for the elusive species since 2005. In that time, he also taught workers what the salamander looked like in case they ever spotted one. Turns out his teaching paid off.

"We had started to fear that the species was gone, and now it's like it has come back from extinction," explained Vasquez, according to Live Science. "It's a beautiful story and marks a promised future for the conservation of this special region."

The Jackson's Climbing Salamander is characterized by its bright-yellow body, which has a black streak running from its head down to its tail. It is so rare that the nonprofit group Global Wildlife Conservation put the salamander on its Top 25 "most wanted species" list as part of its Search for Lost Species initiative. That program hopes to locate animals that, despite not having been seen for decades, are not confirmed to be extinct.

This new discovery happened quite quickly, especially considering the salamander has been missing for so long. In fact, the Global Wildlife Conservation had planned an expedition to Guatemala in January -- which is now cancelled -- to look for the amphibian.

Researchers hope the rediscovery will bring attention to conservation efforts and help scientists understand that, just because an animal has not been seen for some time, it does not mean it is gone for good.

"The rediscovery of this rarest of the rare shows how important habitat preservation is to the persistence of these special animals in these exceptional places, and for me personally it is a moment of sheer joy," saidPaul Elias, an American who discovered theFinca Chiblac salamander and the long-limbed salamander while exploring the jungles of Guatemala in the 1970's, in a statement.

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