November 17, 2011, Updated September 11, 2012

Photo by Dror Galili

Excitement is running high in conservation circles in Israel, after the discovery of a rare frog thought to have been extinct for over 50 years.

A nature warden on a routine patrol in the Hula Nature Reserve found the amphibian, known as the Hula painted frog.

Back of frog

Photo by Dror Galili

“I saw something jump that didn’t look familiar,” Nature and Parks Authority warden Yoram Malka told the Ha’aretz newspaper. “I rushed over and caught a frog, and when I turned it over I saw that it had a black belly with white spots, the identifying mark of the painted frog. I immediately returned [with it] to the reserve’s office and took out the animal handbook, and I saw that what I had found look exactly like the painted frog that appears in the handbook.”

Conservationists and scientists are calling it the ‘find of the century’ and a ‘discovery that will rock the world.’ The frog, measuring 6.3 cm and weighing just 26 grams, was thought to have disappeared by natural extinction in the 1950s.

“It’s very exciting; to me it’s like finding the Dead Sea Scrolls of nature conservation in Israel,” said Dr. Sarig Gafni, an expert in amphibians.

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