The Azuay stubfoot toad, a species thought to be extinct for more than a decade, has been rediscovered in the highlands of Ecuador! Although this critical mountain habitat has been ravaged by chytrid, a deadly fungal disease that's taken a heavy toll on many species of amphibians, it seems this little hopper is stronger than we thought.

Image: Tropical Herping

It all started back in August when two teams of researchers independently rediscovered the tiny toads (Atelopus bomolochos) near the city of Cuenca. "After one of the initial sightings, [we] visited the locality to assess the health of the population," says Tropical Herping, a conservation group that's now working on the best plan of action to prevent the species from vanishing again, this time for good.

After countless hours of trekking through streams, the team managed to find and photograph the beautiful toads for the first time since they were last seen in 2002. The results are simply stunning. 

Image: José Vieira/Tropical Herping
Image: Tropical Herping.
Tropical Herping Biologist Jaime Culebras and Zoológico de Cuenca's Jose Vieira swab for any signs of chytrid and record the toad's call. Image: Tropical Herping
Image: Tropical Herping
Image: Tropical Herping
Biologist Javier Aznar samples microhabitats for toads. Image: Tropical Herping
Image: Tropical Herping

Each slimy survivor was swabbed down for any traces of chytrid, and amazingly, they all came up clean. This has given the team hope for other amphibians in the area – and it could mean that we may see more species "rising from the dead" in the coming years. 

Top header image: Paulo Mars, Tropical Herping/Facebook