The Monte Verde golden toad is a very small toad found in the tropical forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica. It is believed to be extinct since no live specimens have been seen since 1989, but researchers still hope that it continues to live in underground burrows. This species is notable for the striking distinction between male and female. Male colorations are bright orange, and females are greenish-yellow to black, marked with bright red spots edged in yellow. Males range between 39 and 48 mm while females are larger, ranging from 42 to 56 mm in length.
This species preferred wet, montane areas of the tropical forest for its habitat. It was known to occupy a small area of elfin cloud forest on the Cordillera de Tilaran. This area is now known as the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. This species lived a very secretive life, and therefore very little is known about its foods habits. It may have fed on small invetebrates. Breeding occurred during the rainy season, during the months of April, May and June. Males and females were known to gather in large numbers around small, temporary pools or other water-filled depressions located in the forest. The males generally outnumbered the females, resulting in fierce competition between males. Females would produce between 200 and 400 eggs. After hatching, the young would remain in the pool in larval form for about 5 weeks to metamorphose.
It is not fully know why the species became extinct, but researchers believe that its possible extinction may been caused by prolonged drought, pollution and poison by pesticides and toxins, and climate change which may have occurred naturally or unnaturally. The last seen golden toad was a single male found in the wild in 1989. Extensive searches since then have failed to produce any more records of the golden toad. Today, the entire range of this species is protected, and there are some hopes that the species is simply hiding out until the conditions are right to reproduce again.
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