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THEY’RE BACK: Extinct Species That Reappeared
November 18, 2011
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After going missing for half a century, and being declared extinct in 1996, the Hula painted frog was spotted in northern Israel this week. The species, which has only ever been seen in Israel's Hula Valley, was last encountered in the 1950s, and was never around that much to begin with - only five Hula painted frogs have ever been collected, four in the '40s and one in the '50s. Israel's Nature and Parks Authority says "the species now has another chance to survive".

This isn't the first time a species was thought to be long gone, and then went and reappeared. In the science world, these "living fossil" species are called "Lazarus taxons". Here are a few other examples:

The Mountain Pygmy Possum

Until 1966, the existence of Australia's Mountain Pygmy Possum was only known from fossils. That year, a member of the species was found at a ski resort in Victoria, Australia. But while it's good news that the Mountain Pygmy Possum isn't extinct, there's no guarantee it will stay that way: it's been listed as an endangered species.

The Coelacanth

How do you miss a Coelacanth (pronounced SEEL-uh-kanth)? These prehistoric creatures are six-and-a-half feet long, and distinct-looking. But they were believed to have gone extinct 65 million years ago, until a South African museum curator on a local fishing trawler discovered one in 1938.


This species of ant, unlike the Coleacanth, is pretty easy to overlook - they're about a millimeter long, and for a long time the only known example was a specimen preserved in amber. The species was thought to have died out 15 to 20 million years ago, but they were found in South America in 2006. Still, not much is known about these tiny creatures, except that they tend to stay up late - they're a nocturnal species.

The Wollemi Pine

When talking about apparently extinct species, the mind tends to go to fauna before flora: animals and insects can run and hide, after all. But the Wollemi pine was only known through ancient fossils until one was discovered in an Australian national park in 1994. The tree is now recognized as a Critically Endangered species, but they are apparently hardy survivors. And if you're so inclined, you can actually purchase a plant to keep the species going yourself - they can live indoors.

The Laotian Rock Rat

Kha-nyou dig it? This species (the Laotian Rock Rat, called kha-nyou in its native land) seemingly belongs to an ancient fossil family that was thought to have disappeared 11 million years ago. In 2005, researchers discovered the rodent, and thought it was an entirely new species, but it turns out the Rock Rat is actually a Lazarus taxon.

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