A team of scientists has announced the discovery of 10 amphibians believed to be new to science, which were found in Columbia.
The species were discovered during a recent Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expedition in Colombia's mountainous Tacarcuna area of the Darien, near the border with Panama.
The expedition was led by herpetologists from Conservation International (CI) in Colombia and ornithologists from the Ecotropico Foundation, with the support of the local Embera community of Eyakera.
Over a period of three weeks, the scientists identified approximately 60 species of amphibians, 20 reptiles and almost 120 species of birds, many of them apparently found no where else.
The potentially new species of amphibians include three glass frogs of the Nymphargus, Cochranella and Centrolene genus; three poison dart frogs of the Dendrobatidae family (Colostethus, Ranitomeya and Anomaloglossus genera), one harlequin frog of the Atelopus genus, two species of rain frogs of the Pristimantis genera and one salamander of the Bolitoglossa genus.
"Without a doubt, this discovery represents a great milestone for science and human health," said Colombia's Minister of Environment Juan Lozano.
Scientists consider amphibians important indicators of ecosystem health. With porous, absorbent skin, they often provide early warnings of environmental degradation caused by acid rain, or contamination from heavy metals and pesticides that can also harm people.
Amphibians help control the spread of many diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, because they eat the insects that deliver these diseases to human populations.
In addition, amphibians are extremely susceptible to unusual weather variations, with many species impacted by climate change.
"Without a doubt, this region is a true Noah's Ark. The high number of new amphibian species found is a sign of hope, even with the serious threat of extinction that this animal group faces in many other regions of the country and the world," said Jose Vicente Rodriguez-Mahecha, Scientific Director of CI-Colombia.
Other surprising findings in the region included the presence of Central American species recorded for the first time in the northern area of South America, including a salamander, a rain frog, a small lizard and a snake not yet identified.
The identity and names of the new found species will be presented to the scientific community and the environmental authorities to evaluate their conservation status or risk of extinction.