Australia's Lost Frogs

In the early 1980s, frog researchers noticed the sudden disappearance of two frog species from streams in southeast Queensland.

Southern Day Frog

Southern Day Frog
Photographer: S Humphreys © Australian Museum

The first species, the Southern Day Frog, Taudactylus diurnis, was small but very conspicuous and was often seen in large numbers during the day around small streams.

The second species was one of Australia's most remarkable frogs, the Gastric Brooding Frog, Rheobatrachus silus, which only lived in a few streams in the Conondale Ranges to the north of Brisbane. This frog was famous for its ability to brood its young in the female frog's stomach. How it was able to do this was never discovered because the species disappeared around the same time as the Southern Day Frog.

Progressively, other frogs of the same genera disappeared from streams further north of the Conondale Ranges. Among the casualties were most other species of Day Frogs and a second known species of Gastric Brooding Frog, Rheobatrachus vitellinus, which vanished from the rainforests of Eungella, near Mackay, shortly after its discovery.

The reasons behind this extinction could not be determined before the last members of these species disappeared.

The specimens held in museum collections are still used today to study the extinct species and are all that remains of these unique Australian frogs. The Australian Museum holds representatives of all these species collected at a time when they were common in the rainforests of Queensland.


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Ross Sadlier , Collection Manager, Herpetology
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