Sehuencas Water Frog
Thought extinct in the wild from 2009 to 2019
Sehuencas Water Frog Scientific Classification
- Scientific Name
- Telmatobius yuracare
Sehuencas Water Frog Conservation Status
Sehuencas Water Frog Locations
Sehuencas Water Frog Facts
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“The Sehuencas water frog is on the brink of extinction.“
The Sehuencas water frog belongs to the water frog family Telmatobiidae. Like other members of its family, the Sehuencas water frog makes its home in the Andean highlands of South America. In 2009, a single male lived in captivity at the Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny in Cochabamba, Bolivia. For years, researchers believed this male, nicknamed “Romeo,” was the last of his kind. However, during an expedition conducted in 2019, researchers discovered a small group of wild Sehuencas water frogs living in the Bolivia cloud forest, reviving hope that the species can survive.
5 Sehuencas Water Frog Facts
- The Sehuencas water frog lives in Bolivia’s tropical montane cloud forests, rivers, and marshes.
- On average, they live approximately 15 years.
- A single male named “Romeo” collected in 2009 was believed to be the last of his kind.
- No one saw a live Sehuencas water frog in the wild between 2009 and 2019.
- A small group of five frogs was discovered in 2019, and researchers hope to use this group in a captive breeding program to repopulate the species.
Sehuencas Water Frog Scientific name
This frog belongs to the genus Telmatobius in the family Telmatobiidae. Its specific name, yuracare, derives from the name of the Yuracare, a group of indigenous people living in the Bolivian Lowlands of the Amazon Basin. Its common name stems from the Sehuencas region of Cochabamba, Bolivia, where the water frog lives.
Sehuencas Water Frog Appearance
Like all members of the superfamily Hyloidea, Sehuencas water frogs have short bodies and muscular hind legs. They lack tails and possess flattened heads and large mouths. Their skin appears primarily greenish-gray and brown except for some darkish spots on the back and legs. Its belly is a yellow orange hue. Not much else is known about its size, although it measures noticeably smaller than its close relative, the Titicaca water frog, which measures 3-6.7 inches long and weighs around 0.9 pounds.
Evolution and History
These frogs belong to the superfamily Hyloidea. Hyloidean frogs first emerged during the mid-Cretaceous around 100 million years ago. Around 66 million years ago, the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction forced many species, including frogs, to adapt. It was increased forestation that prompted Sehuencas water frogs to adapt, which likely led to their semi-aquatic habits.
These frogs are semi-aquatic, meaning they live both in and out of the water. Like other frogs, they communicate with one another vocally, visually, and chemically. However, not much else is known about their group behavior or survival tactics.
Historically speaking, you could find them throughout Bolivia’s subtropical and tropical montane forests, rivers, and wetlands. They are semi-aquatic and spend time both on land and in water. Today, the only known wild population lives in a narrow range of remote montane cloud forests.
More research is needed to discern what they eat in the wild. That said, it’s safe to say that they probably eat a similar diet to that of other water frogs: insects, worms, crustaceans, snails, and tadpoles. Adults may also eat small fish or cannibalize smaller frogs.
Predators and threats
Several animals prey on water frogs, including lizards, snakes, and birds. However, one of the greatest threats to them comes from introduced species of trout. These invasive trout prey on water frog eggs and hatchlings and have decimated several water frog populations in the Andes. Other threats come from habitat loss, pollution, and human consumption. With so few frogs remaining in the wild, captive breeding programs may not suffice to pull the population back from the brink of extinction.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
Researchers aren’t certain how these rare frogs reproduce. If their reproduction cycle resembles that of other water frogs, then they may breed year-round and produce clutches of 80 to 500 eggs. The nests may be guarded by either parent, and gestation incubation probably lasts a few weeks. Meanwhile, the tadpole stage may last anywhere from a few months to a year. Sehuencas water frogs can live approximately 15 years.
Sehuencas Water Frog Population
Scientists believed the Sehuencas water frog was extinct in the wild until just a few years ago. Between 2009 and 2019, researchers knew of a sole specimen living in captivity. This male, nicknamed “Romeo,” lived at the Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny (MHNC) in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Until 2019, researchers thought he might be the last member of his species, or endling. However, the discovery of five wild Sehuecan water frogs (three males and two females) filled researchers with new hope. The team at the K’ayra Center at MHNC, headed by Teresa Camacho Badani, hopes to breed these water frogs in captivity. Still, the fact of the matter remains that the species rests on a knife’s edge. Due to its low numbers and numerous threats, the IUCN lists the Sehuencas water frog as a Critically Endangered species.
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Sehuencas Water Frog FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Are Sehuencas water frog carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores?
Not much is known about the diet of wild Sehuencas water frogs. Like other water frogs, they likely eat small crustaceans, snails, insects, and tadpoles. They may even eat small fish.
Where are Sehuencas water frogs found?
Historically, you could find Sehuencas water frogs throughout the tropical montane forests, marshes, and rivers of Bolivia. Today, it has been extirpated from much of its native habitat.
How many Sehuencas water frogs are there?
Between 2009 and 2019, researchers knew of only one living Sehuencas water frog. This captive male nicknamed “Romeo,” was thought to be the last of his kind, known as an endling. That changed in 2019 with the discovery of five wild frogs: three males and two females. This brings the total known population of Sehuencas water frogs to six.
What happened to Romeo the frog?
Romeo the Sehuencas water frog lived alone in an aquarium in Cochabamba, Bolivia for almost 10 years. However, with the 2019 discovery of a group of wild Sehuencas water frogs living in a remote section of montane cloud forest, researchers believe they may have finally found Romeo a Juliet.
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- Rewild, Available here: https://www.rewild.org/press/lonely-no-more-romeo-the-sehuencas-water-frog-finds-love
- Daily Mail, Available here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/fb-5381687/WHAT-SEHUENCAS-WATER-FROGS.html
- BBC, Available here: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/science-environment-47751251