A blind salamander, a tap-dancing spider and a ‘fat’ catfish that has been compared to the Michelin Man are among a list of extinct species a US-based conservation group aims to rediscover in nature and to be protected.
The Texas-based group, called Re:wild, has compiled a new list of the “25 Most Wanted Lost Species” as part of its quest to find species lost to science and possibly extinct.
The most wanted list includes the “fatty” catfish, which has not been seen in its known habitat in Colombia since 1957. The species is the only freshwater catfish in the world with tissue rings fat wrapped around its body, which led to its description. by scientists who have previously researched him as “the closest a fish can come to the Michelin man”.
Michael Edmondstone, communications and engagement manager at Shoal, a freshwater species conservation group, said the organization is “extremely excited about the prospect of finding the fish”. He added: “Everyone is hoping to learn more about it and ultimately put the right measures in place to ensure it can thrive for future generations.”
The Togo mouse, lost from Togo and Ghana, is a terrestrial mammal that is still recognized by locals who call it “Yefuli” despite its last confirmed appearance in 1890, while a blind amphibian that dwells in subterranean aquifers at United States, called Blanco’s blind salamander, has not been seen since 1951.
“The Blanco’s blind salamander has achieved near-mythical status among herpetologists, cave biologists and conservationists,” said Andrew Gluesenkamp, director of conservation at the San Antonio Zoo.
Meanwhile, Fagilde’s trapdoor spider, known for building horizontal traps and tap dancing in front of potential mates, is wanted after apparently disappearing from its home range in Portugal in 1931. The new list also includes the bulk puma mushroom, not seen in South America since the 1980s, and pernambuco holly, a tree species in Brazil not recorded since 1838.
Re:wild, which counts actor Leonardo DiCaprio as a founding board member, is also continuing to search for Attenborough’s long-beaked echidna, named after Sir David Attenborough, who was not spotted for 60 years and is one of only five extant species of monotreme, which is a group of egg-laying mammals found in Australia and New Guinea. A tree-kangaroo from Indonesia and a pink-headed duck from India are also wanted by the organization.
Since beginning its search for lost species in 2017, Re:wild has confirmed the rediscovery of eight species through scientific expeditions and analysis, including a type of giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands and the world’s largest bee, found in Indonesia.
However, there are many more species lost to science, with around 2,200 species in 160 countries extinct for 10 years or more. Habitat loss, pollution, rampant hunting and climate change are fueling what scientists have described as Earth’s sixth mass extinction, and the first to be caused by a species, in this case humans.
“When we launched the search for lost species, we weren’t sure anyone would rediscover one of the wildlife species on our most wanted list,” said Barney Long, senior director of conservation strategies at Re :wild. “Each new rediscovery has reminded us that we can find hope in even the most unlikely of situations and that these stories of neglected, yet fascinating species can be a powerful antidote to despair.”
Long said the organization is now looking to conduct research expeditions and design conservation programs for the rediscovered species.