Golden Toad
A male Golden Toad. Photographed by Charles H. Smith (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Until recently, there has been little focus on amphibian extinctions. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Version 2017.2) records only 33 amphibian species as having become extinct (IUCN 2017), but five of these species have been rediscovered: the Spotted Shrub Frog (Pseudophilautus stellatus) in 2009, the Webless Shrub Frog (Pseudophilautus hypomelas) in 2010, the Vegas Vally Leopard Frog (Lithobates fisheri) in 2011, the Heredia Robber Frog (Craugastor escoces), Quito Stubfoot Toad (Atelopus ignescens) and Longnose Stubfoot Toad (Atelopus longirostris) in 2016 (Bolaños & Chaves 2004; Coloma 2016; Hekkala et al. 2011; Wickramasinghe et al 2013a; Wickramasinghe et al 2013b; Tapia et al. 2017). These figures grossly under represents the true number of amphibian extinctions that have taken place in historic times, due to very incomplete and uneven geographically sampling (Baillie et al. 2004).

Amphibians are declining more rapidly and are more threatened than either birds or mammals (Stuart et al. 2004). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Version 2016.3) shows that at least 2068 of the 6534 (IUCN 2016) to 6686 (AmphibiaWeb 2010) known amphibian species on Earth are known to be threatened with extinction (IUCN 2016). In 2016, a total of 113 amphibian species are listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct), and most of these could have disappeared since 1980 (Baillie et al. 2004; Vié et al. 2009; IUCN 2016). The main cause of this current rappid decline is most likely chytridiomycosis (Baillie et al. 2004; Voyles et al. 2009). Chytridiomycosis is an infectious funcal disease of amphibians, caused by the chytrid Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Crawford et al. 2010; Voyles et al. 2009). Its spread and the subsequent declines of amphibian populations and species has been dramatically expedited by global warming. It is difficult to gain a clear, current picture of the status of amphibian population, because their extinctions are happening so rapidly, and few scientists are monitoring them. The indications are that the extinction of amphibians is the most serious wave of all extinctions currently taking place (Baillie et al. 2004; Crawford et al. 2010).

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Species (27)
Scientific Name Common Name Last sighting / EED 1 TSEW status IUCN status
Atelopus vogli Vogl’s Stubfoot Toad  1957 EX EX
Craugastor chrysozetetes McCranie’s Robber Frog 1994? EX EX
Hypselotriton wolterstorffi Yunnan Lake Newt 1979 EX EX
Incilius periglenes Golden Toad  1989 EX EX
Nannophrys guentheri Gunther’s Streamlined Frog  1882 EX EX
Phrynomedusa fimbriata Spiny-knee Leaf Frog 1896 EX EX
Plethodon ainsworthi Ainsworth’s Salamander  1964 EX EX
Pseudophilautus adspersus Thwaite’s Shrub Frog  1886 EX EX
Pseudophilautus dimbullae Dimbulla Shrub Frog 1933 EX EX
Pseudophilautus eximius Queenwood Shrub Frog 1933 EX EX
Pseudophilautus extirpo Blunt-snouted Shrub Frog  1882 EX EX
Pseudophilautus halyi Pattipola Shrub Frog 1899 EX EX
Pseudophilautus leucorhinus White-nosed Shrub Frog  Before 1856 EX EX
Pseudophilautus maia Maia Shrub Frog (Before) 1876 EX EX
Pseudophilautus malcolmsmithi Malcolm Smith’s Shrub Frog  (Before) 1927 EX EX
Pseudophilautus nanus Southern Shrub Frog  1869 EX EX
Pseudophilautus nasutus Pointed-snouted Shrub Frog  1869 EX EX
Pseudophilautus oxyrhynchus Sharp-snouted Shrub Frog  1872 EX EX
Pseudophilautus pardus Leopard Shrub Frog  Before 1859 EX EX
Pseudophilautus rugatus Farnland Shrub Frog  1927 EX EX
Pseudophilautus temporalis Striped-snout Shrub Frog  1864 EX EX
Pseudophilautus variabilis Gunther’s Shrub Frog  1858? EX EX
Pseudophilautus zal White-blotched Shrub Frog  Before 1947 EX EX
Pseudophilautus zimmeri Rumassala Shrub Frog  1927 EX EX
Rheobatrachus silus Southern Gastric Brooding Frog 1981 EX EX
Rheobatrachus vitellinus Northern Gastric Brooding Frog  1985 EX EX
Taudactylus diurnus Mount Glorious Torrent Frog  1979 EX EX


  1. The Effective Extinction Date (EED) is the last reliable record of collection or observation.


AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. (2010). Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: (Accessed: Jul 27, 2010).

Baillie, J.E.M., Hilton-Taylor, C. and Stuart, S.N. (eds) (2004). 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. A Global Species Assessment. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. [Available via].

Bolaños, F. & Chaves, G. (2004). Craugastor escoces. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T56588A11488977. Downloaded on 11 June 2017.

Coloma, L.A. (May 2016). “El Jambato negro del páramo, Atelopus ignescens, resucitó”. (in Spanish).

Crawford, A. J., Lips, K. R., and Bermingham, E. (2010). Epidemic disease decimates amphibian abundance, species diversity, and evolutionary history in the highlands of central Panama. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print, July 19, 2010, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0914115107.

Frost, Darrel R. (2016). Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0 (3 January 2017). Electronic Database accessible at American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA.

Hekkala, E.R., et al. (2011). Resurrecting an extinct species: archival DNA, taxonomy, and conservation of the Vegas Valley leopard frog. Conservation Genetics. Published online 28 May 2011. DOI 10.1007/s10592-011-0229-6.

IUCN. (2016). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 1 March 2017).

IUCN 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-2. . Downloaded on 21 September 2017

Jiménez, R.R. & Alvarado, G. (2017). Craugastor escoces (Anura: Craugastoridae) reappears after 30 years: rediscovery of an “extinct” Neotropical frog. Amphibia-Reptilia 38(2):257–259.

Stuart, S.N., J.S. Chanson, N.A. Cox, B.E. Young, A.S.L. Rodrigues, D.L. Fischman, and R.W. Waller. (2004). Status and trends of amphibian declines and extinctions worldwide. Science 306:1783-1786.

Tapia, E. E., Coloma, L. A., Pazmiño-Otamendi, G., Peñafiel, N. (2017). Rediscovery of the nearly extinct longnose harlequin frog Atelopus longirostris (Bufonidae) in Junín, Imbabura, Ecuador. Neotropical Biodiversity 3:157-167.

Vié, J.-C., Hilton-Taylor, C. and Stuart, S.N. (eds.) (2009). Wildlife in a Changing World – An Analysis of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. 180 pp.

Voyles J, et al. (2009). Pathogenesis of chytridiomycosis, a cause of catastrophic amphibian declines. Science 326:582–585.

Wickramasinghe, L.J.M., Vidanapathirana, D.R., Airyarathne, S., Rajeev, G., Chanaka, A., Pastorini, J., Chathuranga, G. & Wickramasinghe, N. (2013a). Lost and found: One of the world’s most elusive amphibians, Pseudophilautus stellatus (Kelaart 1853) rediscovered. Zootaxa 3620: 112–128.

Wickramasinghe, L.J.M., D.R. Vidanapathirana, M.D.G. Rajeev & N. Wickramasinghe (2013b). Rediscovery of Pseudophilautus hypomelas (Günther, 1876). (Amphibia: Anura: Rhacophoridae) from the Peak Wilderness, Sri Lanka, a species thought to be extinct!. Journal of Threatened Taxa 5(17): 5181–5193;

Citation: Maas, P.H.J. (2017). Globally Extinct Amphibians. In: TSEW (2017). The Sixth Extinction. Downloaded on .
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Updated: 21 September 2017