The purple frog, also called the pignose frog, though this one looks like a slimy mole Freak show: Some of the creatures on the Edge list -the olm (top), a blind amphibian which hunts using electric pulses; the Chinese giant salamander, a pre-historic creature (left); Darwin's frog (below left); and the Gardiner's Seychelles frog, which is smaller than a fingernail Picture~: ZSUICNCSC

BY JO STEELE

THESE are some of the ugliest and weirdest creatures on the planet .They are also some of the most endangered. But just because you wouldn't cuddle them is no excuse for letting the amphibians die out, say experts, who are launching a campaign today to save the creatures. Amphibians are ranked on how 'evolutionary distinct and globally endangered' they are by the Zoological Society of London's Edge project. 'An alarming 85 of the top 100 receive little or no conservation attention and will become extinct if action is not taken now,' said Helen Meredith, Edge co-ordinator. The species include a gigantic ancient relative of the newt, a frog the size of a drawing pin and a blind salamander. One in every three amphibian species is threatened with extinction. That number is far higher than birds or mammals. But ten of the most unusual and threatened amphibians will get help from Edge. These include the Chinese giant salamander, which can reach 1 .8m (6ft) in length and evolved more than l00million years before tyrannosaurus rex. Others which make the list are the olm, a blind salamander with transparent skin that can survive without food for ten years, and Gardiner's Seychelles frog, one of the world's smallest. Fully grown, they reach just 1.1cm.Jan21 2008


Metro 3/10/08

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