Amphibians are becoming a vanishing species. There are a number of causes for them
dieing. But the most recent and worst cause has been discovered. It is responsible for
killing off our amphibians. They are dieing by the thousands. They were able to
survive and hold on through past extinction spasms, surviving even when 95 percent of
other animals died out. They even stayed alive when the dinosaurs disappeared. If
amphibians could live longer than dinosaurs, then why are they dieing now?
The number one cause for our amphibians dieing is a form of fungal infection. It is
called: chytridiomycosis (chytrid for short). This is not the first time this disease has
been known to kill our amphibians. Chytrid was wiping out amphibians in Costa Rica
back in the 1980s. But nobody knew it at the time. When frogs started dying in big
numbers in Australia and Central America in the mid-1990s, scientists discovered the
fungus was to blame.
This fungus attacks the amphibian’s keratin. The keratin is a key structural protein in an
animal's skin and mouthparts. Scientists think it may also perhaps be hampering oxygen
exchange and control of water and salts in the body. Then the frog (amphibian)
ends up dieing from the fungus. But first the amphibian obviously suffers and
spreads the fungus to all of the other frogs in the area. It is a vicious cycle that
that likely will not end until all of our amphibians our extinct!
Scientists believe the fungus came from African clawed frogs. These frogs were exported
widely for pregnancy tests beginning in the 1930s. They may have been the initial
carriers of the fungus.
Chytrid is now reported on all continents where frogs live. That is in 43 countries and 36
U.S. states. The deadly fungus survives at elevations from sea level to 20,000 feet. It
does not just kill frogs either. The deadly Chytrid fungus also kills animals that are
aquatic, land loving, and those that jump the line. Locally it may be spread by anything
from a frog's legs to a bird's feathers to a hiker's muddy boots. It has affected at least 200
Some of the species that are now gone from the wild are the Costa Rican golden toad, the
Panamanian golden frog, the Wyoming toad, and the Australian gastric brooding frog.
That is only a few of the species named. There are said to be even more!
Some scientists play down the importance of any single factor in overall declines. But in
an Australian researcher named Lee Berger believes that the chytridiomycosis fungus on
frogs is the most spectacular loss of vertebrate biodiversity due to disease, in recorded
history. Fogs really did survive while the dinosaurs became extinct. After living that
long you would think a frog could survive just about anything. Imagine some of the
frogs the frogs that the scientists are finding dead from the fungus are old. In fact
there were two frogs recently found together. The female frog was dead. The male
frog was not quite dead. Scientists did everything they could to try and save the male
frog. Sadly, the male spotted frog died despite all of their efforts to save him. After
the male spotted frog died the scientists discovered that he was about forty-seven years
old. In my opinion that is quite a long time for a frog to live. Although I have not
studied the life spans of male spotted frogs. To think that the male spotted frog lived
for at least forty-seven years is amazing. But then the male spotted frog was killed by
the deadly spreading fungus of Chytridiomycosis.
Scientists are studying the dead frogs. They are doing all that they can to keep the
amphibian population alive. They are also doing tests to try and figure out a way of
preventing the disease from spreading any further into the amphibious populations.
The only good thing about this...
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