6. Hula Painted Frog
Israel’s Hula painted frog was declared extinct as it had not been seen for nearly 60 years, but in 2011, one was found lurking in a patch of swampy undergrowth. It is now classified as a living fossil.
Hula painted frog is an amphibian which can be recognized by the small white spots on its dark belly. It was mainly found in the Hula Valley of Israel. Not much is known about its history as there are few specimens existing. Specimens of these species were collected in 1940 and 1955. In the 1950s, the Hula Valley was drained. As a result, these frogs lost their swampy homes and died. Due to this, scientists believed that the species has been lost forever.
In 1996, the IUCN specified the Hula painted frog as “extinct in the wild.” But Israel categorized it as an endangered species in hope that a small population might be found in southern Lebanon or in the Golan Heights. Their wish came true in 2011 when a park ranger spotted a Hula painted frog. Since then, several other sightings have been reported, and the species is now classified as critically endangered in IUCN’s list. (1, 2)
7. Tree Lobster
World’s rarest insect is a more than 15cm-long “tree lobster” that lives on a 1,844-foot-high spindle of rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It forms monogamous bonds and was considered extinct until 2001.
The tree lobster or “Lord Howe Island stick insect” is a species of stick insect that can grow up to 20 cm long. At one time, it was found abundantly on Lord Howe Island located in the Tasman Sea. During that time, locals used it as bait in fishing. The population of this insect began to dwindle after 1918 when the supply ship SS Makambo ran aground. As the ship was being repaired, some rats managed to get from the ship to the island. The black rats soon discovered a new and delicious food – the tree lobster. Within two years, the rat population increased so much that they were almost everywhere on the island, and all the tree lobsters disappeared. Not even a single sighting was reported after 1920, and by 1960, the species was presumed extinct.
After being considered extinct for more than 80 years, two scientists spotted this long stick insect on a small islet called “Ball Pyramid.” Ball Pyramid is about 13 miles away from Lord Howe Island. The scientists found not one but 24 tree lobsters living on the islet. How they got to this remote islet is a mystery yet to be solved. Currently, they occupy the critically endangered status in IUCN list. (1, 2)
Bonus fact: Tree lobsters pair off for life and sleep in pairs with the male protectively placing three legs over the female beside him.
8. Bermuda Land Snail
The Bermuda land snail was thought to have gone extinct in the 70s, but in 2014, many were rediscovered in a Hamilton city alleyway. The snails had colonized the alley early on, and the surrounding city shielded them from the threats that wiped out the rest of the species.
For decades, the endemic Bermuda land snails were believed to have gone extinct. Scientists believed that these snails went extinct by the 1970s due to some invasive predators and due to the increased use of pesticides. The last recorded sighting was made in the early 1970s by paleontologist Stephen J. Gould. At that time, there were plenty of these snails throughout the country. Within two decades, the population numbers took a dramatic plunge. In the early 1990s when Gould returned to his country, he couldn’t find even a single land snail. As the species is endemic, it was feared that they have gone extinct.
About 40 years later, in 2014, the Bermuda land snails were rediscovered by some conservationists in a dark and overgrown alleyway in Hamilton. It is believed that since the 100-square-foot alleyway is surrounded by concrete and air conditioners, it saved the colony from the predators that caused their extinction in Bermuda. After this discovery, scientists are taking steps to protect the habitat. (1, 2)
9. Laotian Rock Rat (kha-nyou)
The kha-nyou is an ancient, squirrel-like rodent from the Khammouan region of Laos. Prior to 1996, it was only known to the rest of the world from Miocene fossils dating back to 11 million years ago.
The Laotian rock rat is a rodent species that belongs to an ancient fossil family that went extinct 11 million years ago. It was rediscovered in 1996 in Thakhek, Khammouan where these rodents were being sold as meat at a market. Later, three other specimens were obtained from villagers in 1998. This nocturnal rodent was photographed and videotaped for the first time in 2005 by David Redfield, a retired Florida State University researcher.
The name of Laotian rock rat is derived from its habitat – limestone outcroppings in central Laos. It has long whiskers, and its beady eyes make it look almost like a rat. This docile creature looks like a cross between a squirrel and a rat. Once thought to be an endangered species, it is now on the Least Concern list of IUCN. (1, 2)
10. Smoothtooth Blacktip Shark
The smoothtooth blacktip (Carcharhinus leiodon), a shark thought to be extinct for 106 years, was rediscovered in 2008 at a Kuwaiti fish market.
The first species of smoothtooth blacktip shark was caught by naturalist Wilhelm Hein during his 1902 trip to Yemen. He donated it to the Vienna Museum along with a variety of animals and plants. The shark went unnoticed for more than 80 years. In 1985, New Zealand ichthyologist Jack Garrick examined the specimen and categorized it as a new species. As no other specimen was found by scientists, it was believed that it might be extinct. Some even believed that it is not a valid species. The next time scientists set eyes on the smoothtooth blacktip shark was in 2008 during a research expedition to Kuwait’s Sharq fish market (“Sharq” being the name of the fish market, and means “east” in Arabic).
With a greenish-colored body, the smoothtooth blacktip shark can grow up to 3.9 feet in length. Not much is known about this shark’s natural history. Scientists believe that it inhabits shallow waters and feeds mainly on small, bony fishes. Currently, the smoothtooth blacktip shark is noted as Vulnerable in IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (1, 2)