Scientist Find A Coqui Frog Fossil That They Believe Is The Oldest Caribbean Frog Further Highlighting A Prideful Part Of Puerto Rico

Updated April 9, 11:00 a.m. PST: The coqui frog is an important part of Puerto Rico’s history and cultural pride. The frog is a symbol of the Caribbean island. The coquis are found on all of the Caribbean islands but it is only the male coqui frogs in Puerto Rico who sing. The special, yet common amphibian is now making a bigger splash in the world because of their longstanding history on the island.

Update: Scientists have found what might be the oldest Caribbean frog and it is a coqui frog in Puerto Rico.

The coqui frog is an unofficial symbol of Puerto Rico with a long a storied history on the island. It is believed that they have lived on the island longer than any other living creature and welcomed the Taíno people. There is a folklore surrounding the frog that helps to give it its place in history.

Now, the story of the coqui frog got a lot longer and stronger. Scientists recently discovered a coqui fossil that is believed to be around 29 million years old.

Credit: USA Today

“The Puerto Rican crested toad has greenish-brown pebbled skin and marbled golden eyes. It grows 3-4 inches long and has the ability to nearly flatten its body completely to fit into tiny crevices.”

Move over Coquí, the Puerto Rican Crested Toad is making a comeback. That’s right, according to this USA Today story, scientists at the the Detroit Zoo have been growing and caring for over 5,6000 tadpoles that will shortly be making their way back to Puerto Rico, where they are endangered. As amphibians, these toads are close biological relatives (like casi primos) of the Coquí, the official animal of Puerto Rico.

These crested toads were bred in captivity because their numbers are in decline, due to environmental threats. Because of how difficult it is to create the exact conditions under which the toads can and will mate, a nationwide program was launched to create these mating labs for them. From getting the right water, to the right barometric pressure and even playing the right mating calls, scientists are taking all necessary steps.

In a press release from the Detroit Zoo, Dr. Ruth Marcec, director of the National Amphibian Conservation Center, commented about the drastic measures taken to preserve these toads:

“Amphibians are in crisis, with nearly half of the world’s known 7,660 species threatened with extinction due to habitat loss, climate change, pollution, infectious diseases and other factors. Bolstering the population of these amphibians in their natural environment is a triumph for conservation.”

The zoo has been successful in producing over 47,000 of these tadpoles and will send close to 6,000 of them to Puerto Rico, where they’ll hopefully help bring the numbers back up to normal.

Credit: Detroit Zoo

Bringing the toads back will help keep the waters cleaner and keep the ecosystem in balance, even if they do get some side-eye from the beloved Coquí.

[H/T] USA Today / Detroit Zoo

READ: Shocked That Not Everyone In Puerto Rico Looks Like J.Lo, She Created An Account To Open Everyone Else’s Eyes

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