Scientists have made a rare discovery of three new species of toad in Nevada, a remarkable find detailed in a new research paper.
Scientists have just made a rather incredible discovery in several areas in Nevada. They’ve found three new toad species that are already facing extinction, and conservationists are preparing an emergency petition to protect at least one, the Dixie Valley toad.
It’s an astonishing find because the last time we found a new toad species in the United States was 50 years ago. The Dixie Valley toad was first observed in the early 2000s, but it wasn’t identified as a new toad species until 2014. Dixie Valley toads are just 2 inches long and have bumpy skin that is colored black, green, and brown. They live in a marsh that is just 2 square miles in Dixie Valley.
The other two new toads are the Railroad Valley toad and the Hot Creek toad, which are not connected geographically. They were discovered in a 10-year-long survey of the Great Basin using “shape” metrics and DNA studies.
“We’ve found the toads in small, wet habitats surrounded by high-desert completely cut off from other populations,” Dick Tracy, a renowned biology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lead scientist on the project, said. “These are absolutely new, true species that have been separated from other populations for 650,000 years.”
“The Dixie Valley toad is a pretty toad, with flecks of gold on an olive background,” Tracy, a long-time professor in the biology department of the College of Science, said. “It’s not like the big, common green toads you might find in other marshes around the west or even in Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno.”