A place to uncover fascinating bits of random knowledge of the natural world. From the conservation of the endangered vaquita porpoise to the hidden wonders of the Bornean rainforest, and everything between. Knowledge is wonderful, so dive in and enjoy.
Toads are supposed to be drab. Every toad that had ever been seen since man started cataloging his fellow creatures had been so. Until 1966, when scientists exploring a four square mile preserve in the cloud draped rain forests above Monteverde, Costa Rica discovered Bufo periglenes, the golden toad. Endemic to this one small piece of forest, little is known about the lives of these enigmatic creatures.
We will never have any answers to our questions either, because this species is gone from the face of the earth forever.
Staying hidden most of the year, these toads were only seen during a two week window in April. That's when the brightly colored males would gather in huge congregations around pools of rainwater to compete for a very small number of females.
1987 was a very dry year, and all the pools dried up before golden toad tadpoles could mature. Of the more than 44,000 eggs found, only twenty-nine tadpoles survived to maturity.
No golden toads have been seen since 1989.
There are many theories circulating as to the cause of the golden toad's demise. Climate change, fungal attacks, pollution, and even excess ultraviolet radiation have been blamed. Maybe it was just a natural occurrence, or maybe it was mankind's doing.
These theories are not my concern. I simply feel the need pause a moment and reflect on the passing of one of our fellow species. Nothing lasts forever, but it is a real sadness to discover such a wonder only to have it vanish such a short time later.