Rainbow Toad Photographed - Conservation International
Rainbow Toad Photographed - Conservation International © Indraneil Das

The bespeckled rainbow toad of Borneo was believed to be extinct for almost a century. Yet, some 87 years since the last sighting, one of the world's Top 10 Most Wanted Amphibians has surfaced again.

Researchers spent months scouring the dense jungles of Borneo in search of the elusive amphibian species. On July 13, they announced that they had spotted not only one, but three rainbow toads - an adult female, adult male, and a juvenile. And, they have photos to prove it.

Last seen in 1924, the Bornean rainbow toad (Ansonia latidisca) sat idly on a list of the world's Top 10 Most Wanted Amphibians - or those that hadn't been seen for decades. Conservation scientists admitted that the chances of a sighting were slim, and were absolutely delighted with the find.

The mysterious, spindly-legged amphibian had never been seen by the group of scientists who relied on three specimens and a black and white illustration from European explorers in the 1920s.

The three documented toads were found in different trees in Penrissen, a region outside the protected area system of Sarawak, which is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo.

The effort was part of the global search for lost amphibians by Conservation International, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Amphibian Specialist Group, with support from Global Wildlife Conservation. The large search involved 126 researchers who scoured areas in 21 countries, on five continents, between August and December 2010.

To see the first-ever pictures of a species is a special kind of privilege. To see the first pictures of a species that has been lost for almost 90 years defies belief, Robin Moore, an amphibian expert with Conservation International, said in a statement.

You can see the skin is rough, which usually indicates the presence of poison glands, Moore said.

You probably don't want to put this in your mouth.

The rediscovered toad has now moved to a new list, IUCN's Red List of Endangered Species. It joins the only other member of the Top 10 list to be rediscovered, the spotted stubfoot toad of southwestern Ecuador.

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