New species of toad discovered in U.S. for 1st time in 50 years

For the first time in 50 years, a new species of toad has been discovered in the United States.

Scientists this week announced the discovery of the Dixie Valley toad that lives only in a small, 2-square-mile area of Churchill County in northern Nevada. The critter lives near where thermal springs bubble up, which has created a rare wetland area in an otherwise extremely arid landscape. 

Along with the discovery, scientists in the study said the new species is already threatened by the proposed development of a nearby geothermal energy facility, the Dixie Meadows Geothermal Utilization Project.

“We are in favor of renewable energy, including geothermal, but the location of this project is not appropriate,” said study co-author Eric Simandle of Paul Smith's College in New York.

The proposed geothermal project could sap the wetlands of water, potentially destroying the toads’ habitat, Simandle added. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is reviewing the proposed facility.

The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, has joined the fight to save the toad. “We hope the BLM will recognize the importance of this new toad and go back to the drawing board on its review of the Dixie Meadows Geothermal Project,” said Jenny Loda, a center attorney and scientist focused on protecting amphibians and reptiles.

“It’s horrible to think that we may lose this new species just as we’re beginning to learn about it," Loda said.

The discovery of the toad was announced in the journal Zootaxa.

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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